If you are a homeschooler, you must be brilliant, socially awkward, sheltered, and have at least 18 siblings. You also hang around in your pajamas all day, learn nuclear fission at 8 years old, and plan to start college when you’re 12.
Or, so the stereotypes say.
In fact, homeschoolers cannot be stereotyped any more than kids who go to public school. Homeschoolers struggle or excel in school just as kids who are taught in a traditional classroom do. There are, however, some skills that homeschoolers need to learn before they leave home—skills that public school students might have more of an opportunity to learn.
As a homeschooler, here is a list of things I was grateful I’d been taught before I started college.
Skills That Homeschoolers Need
Basic Sewing Skill If your child never takes a home econ class in high school, it is your responsibility to teach them a few basic stitches. My mother taught me to hem a pair of pants, anchor a stitch, and sew in a straight line when I was a pre-teen.
I will never be a seamstress, but I can get by! When I jumped into high school, I tested out of some classes and avoided others by taking online courses…perhaps unfortunately, home econ was one of the classes I managed to graduate without suffering through.
Luckily, I already knew the basics. A combination of my mother’s powers of persuasion and online classes taken before I started high school might have gotten me out of a semester of sewing, cooking, and interior design, but thanks to my mother’s foresight I didn’t miss out on any essential skills.
Basic Cooking Cooking: another basic skill I missed out on in home econ. But again, a skill my mother was careful to teach me at home. I learned how to use a bay leaf, how to properly defrost meat and chop an onion, how to make homemade Alfredo sauce, and that measuring an 8th of a teaspoon of pepper is rarely worth it—just guestimate.
If I had not been taught at home, I would have been in trouble in college. Ramen and Hot Pockets have never been my style—but since my parents mixed in some basic cooking lessons with all of the literature analysis and algebra, I was able to eat the same in my dorm room as I had under my parents’ roof.
Real World Math The quadratic equation is one thing, but let’s be honest—how often will we use it after high school unless we want to be a math teacher or do lab research? For me (an English major), the answer was never. I did my math homework dutifully, however, and once I completed Math 101 my freshman year of college, I swore that I would never pick up a math book again.
Real-life math, however, is different than multiplying exponents or finding the area of a triangle. Since a few online classes I took covered the corresponding high school math courses, I would have missed out on a few key principles had my mother not been wise enough to teach me while I was still at home.
Does your teenager know about mortgages? Taxes? That getting a few different insurance quotes from agencies in Calgary is a better idea that just settling for the first one that pops up on a Google search? Does your teenager know what will happen when he or she invests a paycheck? Does he or she understand interest rates?
Music If your children are homeschooled, they won’t have a chance to experiment with the musical instruments and classes provided by middle school classes. They might not know they have an affinity for a musical instrument unless you experiment with them at home.
So rent a violin or trumpet or find access to a piano (at a community center, neighbor’s house, etc.) and let them take lessons. By the time they get to high school or college, they’ll have enough musicality to join an orchestra or choir whether or not they’ve had previous experience in an ensemble.
My father started teaching me piano lessons when I was four years old. I never played in an ensemble until I made it to high school, but I knew enough and had enough of a love for the instrument that I started accompanying for the high school musicals, choirs, and bands. Without those lessons at home, I would have missed out on a talent that turned into a reliable job when I made it to college and started charging vocal students for my services.
Life Skills Important for Homeschooler and Formally Educated
Of course, these skills are important for every child to learn whether or not they are homeschooled. If public school isn’t teaching them what you think they need to learn, supplement their knowledge with lessons at home. Regardless of how you’ve chosen to formally educate your children, take every opportunity to teach them important life skills that will prepare them to leave home and become competent, independent adults.
Melanie Hargrave is a wife and homemaker whose family is her pride and joy.