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Homeschool Career Exploration: 5 Steps to Help Teens Find Purpose
Over the years of working with teens, I’ve come to love the look of relief on a their faces when they realize that they have purpose, that their lives are meant to have meaning. In fact, most people feel better when they feel like they are here on earth for a purpose! That’s what Career Exploration is all about!
When homeschool high schoolers discover their purpose in life, they:
- Feel better about themselves
- Notice they have more energy to do good
- Feel more motivated to do the tough stuff, like academics or personal growth
What is *purpose* anyway?
Our careers are part of our purpose, but not all of it.
Teens need to know that all honest careers are good and have purpose. A cashier at Walmart has purpose, an accountant has purpose, a politician has purpose, a missionary has purpose. All careers are necessary for the world to work well.
Our families are part of our purpose.
Each person has a role to play in a family. Each role is valuable. If we believe that God is a purposeful God, then each child born in each position of the birth order has value to the family.
Our friends are part of our purpose.
Teens need to know that they influence and are influenced by the people they are around most often.
We know that Scripture (Proverbs 13:20) tells us that is we walk with wise people, we’ll be wise. Research shows that good friends are also good for teens’ habits, brain structure, and mood (even helping affect mood into the future). Read this post for lots of good information on friendship.
The importance of understanding includes digital friends. Our friend, Leah Nieman, has lots of good advice about the digital world that is such a part of the American adolescent lifestyle.
Our place in God’s kingdom is part of our purpose.
Churches often are good at helping teens explore ways to serve and role models. This builds experience and self-awareness. When teens volunteer at church in various capacities, they begin to learn about places they fit in the body of Christ. Here’s a fun, helpful episode of Homeschool Highschool Podcast about service and the homeschool transcript.
Our own personal fulfillment is part of our purpose.
God made each person to be valuable in his sight. It is valuable, then, for homeschool high schoolers to understand their strengths and weaknesses, personalities, interests, and skills. (This is exactly what Career Exploration is! Understanding oneself is an important component of 7Sisters comprehensive Career Exploration textbook.
So, as homeschool high schoolers begin to explore their purpose, they will actually be exploring several different purposes: career, family, friends, service/God’s kingdom, personal fulfillment.
Here are five steps for parents to try when helping their teens find their purposes:
1) Don’t just stand there, do something.
Teens don’t find purpose by sitting still and thinking. They find it by getting busy. Here’s a post on discovering interests that has the same basic principals.
2) Do something new and out of the box.
Teens need to start trying on hats, to do things they have never done before. It doesn’t need to be something they like to do, just something they’ve never done. Visit a state park, go to a play, volunteer for Habitat for Humanity or a different job at church.
3) Do something frequently.
Think about trying something new each weekend. Eventually your teens will find something they like so well, they will start going back again and again. Their purpose will begin to show itself in those things.
4) Learn about yourself as you try new things.
Some things will be awesome. Some will be awful. Note which is which. They are all pointing your homeschool high schoolers TOWARD purpose or telling them to TRY SOMETHING ELSE.
5) Don’t worry.
Your high schoolers won’t be judged on the *importance* of their purposes. Purposes can be very small and still be important in God’s eyes. It might be volunteering at an animal shelter or nursing home, helping a local community organization or fighting world hunger. What matters is that, over time, they have found somethings that matters to them.
Having purposes in life does not solve all of life’s problems, but when we have purpose, the problems feel less important.
Here are some ideas for courses that count as Career Exploration.
Download the Career Exploration textbook and get your homeschool high schoolers busy discovering their purposes. They will feel better (you may, too).
For more on how to get teens interested in their studies, check out our series on how to get teens interested. For instance: Getting Teens Interested in Writing.