By Shari McMinn
Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he (Proverbs 29:18 KJV).
Three decades ago when my late husband, Cary, and I began homeschooling our then five children, we discussed what outcomes we hoped to achieve and would plan for. This was the basic list we envisioned for each of our children to become:
- Caring and compassionate adults
- Enjoyers of their God-given interests and talents for hobbycraft and work
- Lifelong learners
- Livers of life to each one’s fullest potential
- Responsible, self-supporting citizens
- Seekers and followers of Jesus Christ
- Valuers of family life and worthy friends
- Well-rounded students
We started simply with a vision to follow the Lord’s lead to raise and educate what would eventually become 11 children, including a number of unique learners. Not knowing where He would lead us, we trusted Him for how they would graduate from homeschool and enter into adulthood. Did our “plan” work? Yes, for the most part. We were sinners raising sinners who all needed, and still need, a merciful God. Now all graduated, my children — and I — continue to learn about adulting as we navigate life each day.
The dedication and sacrifice to homeschool them for a total of 28 years was well worth it!
As might be for your family, my adult children graduated from our homeschool to follow different paths. College, entrepreneurship, military service, and workforce entry were a few of their choices. Because of their home education, they were prepared to fly out of our nest and begin making their own. They each had a basic education that prepared them for their next season of life, equipped with tools to succeed.
Regardless of your child’s ability to learn “school” lessons at their level of ability, there are “life” lessons they need to gain along the way. Whether your child is developmentally delayed, a struggling learner, a highly gifted student, or just a regular kid who marches to a different drummer, here are questions to begin answering as you prepare them for when they graduate home high school:
- Are they able to care for themselves on a daily basis or have someone who can assist them?
- Are they able to safely navigate transportation for work, travel, and enjoyment?
- Are they able to work a job, transitioning from dependent to more independent living?
- Are they able to budget their income and expenses to save, spend, and tithe?
- Can they communicate effectively with others at home, in social settings, and their workplace?
- Do they feel a “belonging” to your family, the family of God, and larger society?
- Do they have the character to deal with stress and temptation?
- Do they know Jesus as their Lord and Savior? (top priority!)
- Do they know who to contact besides you if problems arise that they need help with?
- Do they understand boundaries in family, personal, social, and work relationships?
- Do they understand good versus evil and know how to daily “put on the armor of God”?
- Do they understand their strengths and weaknesses and how to live with those in mind?
These questions are not answered in a day or year, but over a lifetime. Even we, as mature adults, may still be working on our own such list. I always enjoyed Aesop’s fable of The Tortoise and the Hare, and was guided by, “Slow and steady wins the race.” It takes time to learn how to live well the life that God has given each of us. Endurance, lovingkindness, and patience are a must for us as we help our children.
Graduation, no matter what comes next for your student, is NOT the end of your influence on his or her life. Instead, it is the beginning of your mentorship and “pray without ceasing” for the rest of their lives. It doesn’t matter what they are graduating to, but that they have the promise of a hopeful future as the Lord continues to hold them in the palm of His hand. Keep in mind, wherever they are, whatever they do, God loves our children even more than we can. When you wake up in the middle of the night worrying about them, that is a promise you can cling to as you go back to sleep with prayer and praise for His love and mercy.
Need more encouragement and practical tips for homeschooling your unique learner? Join the fun and fellowship of the Rocky Mountain Homeschool Conference by registering here. The Unique Learners track workshops (highlighted in green on the schedules halfway down this webpage) are presented by:
- Pamela Gates, Dianne Craft’s Right Brain Learning System
- Shari McMinn, Shari Communicates (yep, that’s me!)
- Andrew Pudewa, Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW)
Finally, you might be helped by these SPED Homeschool podcasts:
- College Admission Tips for Unique Learners
- How to Prepare the Intellectual Disability Child for Life After High School
My next blog, “Summer Struggles and Solutions” will be posted on June 28, 2023 (the 4th Wednesday).
P.S. If you have a topic I should write about, please email me with your suggestion(s). This blog is for you!
Shari McMinn, your trusted homeschooling friend