One of the more under-discussed, yet greatly feared, aspects of homeschooling high school is guidance counseling. As you approach the high school years, you are suddenly faced with the daunting task of guiding your child through the maze of college and career choices. While you are helping them navigate this unfamiliar territory, you are also transitioning from parenting a dependent child to parenting a very independent young adult. This can be hard for many families and often causes stress and discord.
There is hope.
Homeschooling has given me the wonderful ability to really get to know my children as they have grown into young women. We have tried to foster an environment in which they feel comfortable talking with us about their hopes, dreams, and fears. Discussing these things isn’t always pleasant or happy, but it is always real. This gives me the ability to help them as they try to find their way.
My oldest child will graduate this spring. Of my three children, she has struggled the most with the idea of becoming an adult. She is so aware of the responsibilities of adulthood that it seems frightening to her. Because of her vivid imagination and her tendency to over-think things, the possibilities are overwhelming. Also, there are so many things she likes to do that it has been hard for her to focus on a singular goal for her future education. Our talks about this have ranged from dreamy and full of laughter to serious and tearful. I have, at times, even questioned my ability to get us through this stage.
As she approached graduation, we needed to narrow her wide focus down to a single track for college. We are fortunate that our state provides for two years of community college upon graduation from high school, so we want her to take advantage of it while she can. She has no desire to attend a four-year school at this time, but we know that could change. Exploring the options at our local community college, we tried to focus on a transferrable degree program that fell within her scope of interests. We landed on a Theater Arts Associates Degree that will transfer into our state university, should she decide to go that route later.
Coming to this decision was harder than it might have appeared from the outside. There is a lot of turmoil within my oldest about what she wants to do after school. She wants to be a writer but also wants something a little more concrete. She loves to act but doesn’t really want to be a stage actor or on be on television. She is very good with children but doesn’t want to go the traditional route of becoming a teacher. We went around in circles about it for a very long time, not able to land on anything until she went to see a play in which favorite acting teacher starred. The light bulb went on: a drama teacher! There are many non-traditional opportunities in our area for teaching drama, and this was the first time a smile crossed her face when talking about a major for college.
So now, our route has become clear with a tangible goal at the end. I have been able to help her focus on class choices for both this year as a dual enrollment student and for the two years to come as she works toward her goal.
An unexpected, yet happy, side effect to getting this choice hammered out is that she seems to have relaxed in other areas of her life. Having an idea of where she is headed after the dreaded (to her) 18th birthday has lifted a weight off of her shoulders that I didn’t realize was quite so heavy. She seems to be settling into her new picture of herself as a young adult.
This is when the dread and fear of being the guidance counselor to your own children turns into pleasure and pride about who they are becoming. The beauty of homeschooling is in the process. The hopes, fears, struggles and accomplishment are handled through the love and nurture of parenting and personal education, and you get to play a part in it.