Thinking Outside the Box

Reprinted with permission from the blog: Grateful for Grace

Thinking Outside the BoxHomeschooling high school can be amazing.  Yes, really.  It can provide opportunities for your child that are unique and life changing.

Today’s post in my Homeschooling High School series is about thinking outside the box.

If we only provide academics for our child, then we have stayed safely in the box.  Let’s not do that.

Here are some ways to help encourage you and your child(ren) to start thinking outside the box:

  • Consider what most helped you grow towards adulthood
  • Make a list of the top five ways you learned the most about your strengths, weaknesses, and work ethic
  • Ask older parents what they wish they had done with their high schoolers
  • Find out what the work force is sorely lacking in currently
  • Have the child(ren) list interests and gifting he would like to develop

Here are some ideas to consider including in your child’s homeschool education while in high school:

Jobs  One of the best ways for a young person to gain insight into their strengths and weaknesses is to work.  Serving in the family is the training ground for this and it’s important.  Taking it to another level helps a teenager grow in many areas.

Choosing wisely the work environment is important.  While a job helps a person financially and in so many other areas, it is not worth a child’s innocence or safety.  Make sure to match the environment to the teen, allowing challenge, but not crushing.

Internships   Providing an opportunity for a teenager to learn about a job, career, or field is a far reaching experience.  Not only will he/she gain insight into that area, but they can be better prepared to make the most of their time in college.  If the child is still narrowing down a major, then he/she can gather more information for making that decision.  If the child already has a strong leading, the internship can confirm or negate that leading.

The student attends “work” with the adult and participates as much as possible, definitely.  This is not just a job, but a real intentional training.

Internships are power experiences.  They can teach so much as well as help your child make the most of their time in college, by gaining insight outside of just the course catalog and classes.  It gives them real life experiences to attach to majors (hopefully significantly cutting down on time in college).

Atypical Internships  Another kind of internship involves having the young person intern in an area that colleges don’t include, but are vitally important.  These internships would be gaining insight and experience in the areas of parenting, evangelizing, home making (involving many sub categories), pastoring, one fleshing (ok, I couldn’t come up with a word for the behavior or marital relationship building), and more.

Having a student learn these lifelong and biblically addressed skills cannot be underemphasized.  While a teenager gains the example of his/her parent/s in these areas, seeing how other godly adults handle these is important.  We are all created differently and a young adult can benefit greatly be knowing through experience that there are other ways to [insert skill here] in god honoring ways.

The adult provides the example and the mentoring, while the student assists and learns.

I believe the student would gain the most in these areas by living with the adult during this time.  If it’s not possible to do that, then spending a full day (not just a work day) with the mentor is second best.  This allows the teenager to see as much of “real life” as possible without either party putting on airs.  This is important for both: the adult needs to truly share their life without giving false impressions and the student needs to experience it that way.

Again, an internship should involve a good amount of time.  I believe these kinds of atypical internships should involve two-three weeks, enough to get the experience but not so much that the mentor feels invaded.      😉

Apprenticeships    Taking the internship idea deeper, a young adult can gain even more experience by apprenticing with a trusted adult.  Spending an extended period of time with someone that excels in the area of interest and is willing to have a trainee can be life changing for the adult as well as the student.

Apprenticeships were the way of career training for most of history.  A professional agreed to train a young person and care for them, in exchange for payment (whether monetarily or by an amount of time served).  There is no better way to learn something than by working alongside someone who is skilled.

They are typically longer in time commitment than an internship and involve actually doing the skill in larger and larger increments, to where the apprentice is able to perform the skill on his/her own by the end of the apprenticeship.

These really can be started, and some even finished, in high school.  Piano tuning is one we were looking into for Noah before we moved.  It’s a dying art and can support a family.  Learning how to farm, how to work on cars, the art of tailoring are all skills that could be apprenticeships.

These are fabulous for any person, but especially for those not created for college or those to whom college is not an option.

Travel    Giving our child the chance to experience different cultures can have lifelong effect in ways that we cannot even imagine.  I am even more solidified in my opinion on this since moving out of the Bible Belt.  I was shocked by the staggering difference in culture here in the Albuquerque area, though I attended college in two different states, grew up in another, and spent my summers working in a fourth.  While I did see and experience differences in each of those, there is a stark difference between the Deep South and the South West.


I am grateful for the chance I had to live in each of those states.  Each one is different, culturally.

I think we should take advantage of the lack of being tied down for our young people.  We can provide them insight into people, culture, and life in general if we send them to different cultures via travel.

I believe this is best accomplished by combining the travel with an internship (traditional or atypical) since it keeps the child in a trusted home environment.  It also allows for dialogue and everyday life in a more culturally accurate way.

Service.   A high school student should learn what it means to serve without expecting anything in return.  Volunteer work of varied kinds teach the student the beauty of this while also developing people skills and skills related to the service.

You can do this with your child or allow them to do it on their own (or a combination). Choosing an area the teenager is interested can strengthen a gifting and choosing one in which the teen could use (or really needs) to learn empathy or understanding are great ideas.

Most non-profit organizations are always looking for trustworthy volunteers.

Ideas to consider: pregnancy centers, MOPS, mommy helpers (being a personal assistant to SAHMs), shelters, mentor a younger child, church committees, zoos, widow support, reading to the blind (contact a local Lions Club to ask about this), special needs camps (I’m a bit partial to this one), and Good News Clubs.

Consider making a verbal agreement with your student.  They should commit to a specific amount of time for the service.  After that time period is up, you can both decide if it is a fit.

I personally believe that long term service develops the true understanding, but any little bit helps give a teenager the chance to see outside themselves.

All of these ideas take time and effort, but they can grow your high schooler in important and life changing ways both short and long term.  And maybe even the parents.     ;-)

Think outside the academic box so your high schooler is propelled towards adulthood, not just getting older. What other ideas to you have for thinking outside the box for high school?

Mindy BrouseMindy Brouse writes at Grateful for Grace.  You can usually find her with a warm cup of chai latte, a kid or six snuggled near her, and a terrific book nearby.  She has been homeschooling for more than fourteen years.  Her goal is to encourage and equip mothers, wives, and homeschoolers to grow in grace in every area of their lives.  Her family of eight live in the East Mountains of New Mexico, where she is trying to stay warm most of the year.


Posted in Guest Post | Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *