Do Home School kids ever manage ‘real’ work?

My youngest is on holiday from work and pays a visit. As a working girl now, she doesn’t get many of these.

She’s also ‘on-call’ to beeps on her phone as work messages come in all the time we’re together, on outings, even during a leisurely breakfast.

Me and she out having fun!

I raise my eyebrows.

We have a natural habit of respect in this house; of paying attention to the person you’re with, rather than the person on social media. She notices my quizical grin.

“It’s work!” she says indignantly, knowing what I’m thinking. “And it’s part of what being a good manager is. I want to look after my staff and help the business run smoothly.”

“But even while you’re on holiday? Surely even managers need time off,” I said.

But what I’m also thinking is; how on earth did she get to be so hardworking and conscientious about it?

There were times home educating – plenty of times, in fact, especially in her teens – when she couldn’t get out of bed in the morning. Sometimes most of the day. There were times when it was hell trying to get her to do anything that resembled ‘work’ of any sort. There was a time when she didn’t read – right into her teen years. There were times when she spent more energy procrastinating than accomplishing a task in hand. There were plenty of times when people made comments like; ‘If she’s not in school being made to do things, how will she ever know what real work is?’ Or; ‘If she doesn’t get up in the morning how will she learn how to get up for work?’ Or ‘She’s never going to be able to hold down a job if she doesn’t have a routine of work’. Or ‘How’s she going to cope with a proper working life?’

Etc. Etc.

But I just kept faith. I knew my daughter. I knew she had an active mind and was building skills, even if not in a recognisable routine way; building life skills, not school skills. And I held onto the strong belief that it is NOT necessary to give youngsters ‘practice’ at a schoolish kind of ‘work’ in order to practice for a working life, because school life is totally unlike a real working life, for all sorts of reasons (choice being among them), although most people don’t own up to that. But the youngsters know!

Young people are not stupid. They know what they see for real and what others are doing. Young people work out what they need and why they need it, and with some adult support they’ll build the skills they need and want because they naturally want to get into the real world of earning and working at fulfilling work. With a little guidance they’ll find out how to do so.

My youngest, in her twenties, lives independently now. She goes to work – far earlier than her scheduled hours – like her home schooled contemporaries. She is a conscientious, skilled, competent and empathetic manager, after only a few working years, who works so hard, even during her holiday, that I’m now telling her to slow down rather than get up and get on!

Who’d have thought it?

And what’s particularly satisfying is that those ignorant and insulting commentators all turned out to be completely WRONG!

So what did we do? We had faith (as well as the encouragement and – ok – maybe a bit of nagging which didn’t work). And we stuck to our belief in the fact that young people do not need coercing into work, they’ll do it when they see the reality. And we kept faith in the abilities of our young people.

Hope this little story gives you the courage to do the same.


18 thoughts on “Do Home School kids ever manage ‘real’ work?

  1. This was just the post I needed as I wobble through the all important teenage years. Thank you for taking the time to share your journey with us it is so important to those of us that are further back on the path. I agree with the comment about knowing your children and being close to them. I was listening to a Podcast recently and it talked about relationships with your children and I just couldn’t relate to what they were saying, it was as if these people never talked to their children! How weird would that be?

    • Thank you so much for saying, I’m so pleased to read your comment. All the best for those teen years. I’m not the only parent who witnesses their teens seemingly doing very little to then go on and achieve so much, so keep believing! 🙂

  2. Thank you for this, Ross. Although I often reassure myself and (try to reassure) extended family that there is no need to nag or force, and when eyebrows are raised when my children aren’t often up early, it’s good to read lovely posts like this from those who have been there and done it 🙂

  3. This was so lovely to read Ross. Both of your girls are such a credit to you. Having known Charley since she was very small, it’s such a joy to see her flourish into such an amazing young woman. We should have known she would have so much drive after watching her and Luke work hard on their mud pies!! Lots of love to you all xx

  4. parents are such huge worriers. but, on a positive note, because home-ed families are closer, we know our children from cover to cover. we see sparks of talent, intelligence, and initiative – yet we still worry, don’t we? like you, ross, we would like to keep the faith. we made a leap of faith in deciding to home-ed our children and we will march on. we will persevere and allow our children to see the value of perseverance – grit. in the end, just like you, we will all emerge as winners xx

  5. Really enjoyed this post, Ross. I read it out loud to the family!! because it resonates so much. We are just watching our (almost) 13-year-old begin to think about what she might like to work towards and it’s all about her making the connections herself: ‘working out what she needs and why she needs it.’ We have faith in her passions and abilities and are just letting things flow so reading your words just gives us that gentle reminder that we’re doing OK. Thank you 🙂

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