Love it or leave it, the world is fast becoming the home of we ‘Millenials’, and being defined by our experience of parenting, the job market, and education.
I find it fascinating to see how differently we look at the world, and what we expect of it.
First of all, let’s clear the air. Lydia Abbot says in 8 Millennials’ Traits You Should Know About Before You Hire Them,
“A lot of people seem to think that we are, well, a pain. The week I graduated from college, Time Magazine released an article titled “Millennials: the Me Me Me Generation,” which called us lazy, entitled, self-obsessed narcissists. Ouch! On the other hand, we’ve been called open-minded, liberal, self-expressive, upbeat, and overtly passionate about equality. Naturally, I’d prefer to believe this description over the former (how Millennial of me). But, the truth is both arguments hold some grounds for belief. The reality must fall somewhere in between.”
I’m not getting into that debate, but do want to explore with you some of the expectations for homeschooling in a millenial era, what we might expect from a ‘dream homeschool program’, and how Seton Home Study School stacks up against these needs.
I highschooled with Seton, but at the time didn’t realize how much more they had available than a printed lesson plan. In working for Seton for three years now, I’ve learned a lot more.
The Pioneer Spirit?
Several times, I’ve visited the IHM National Homeschool & Parent Conference, met with vendors, listened to the speakers and taken notes. In meeting with some of these experienced veterans of homeschooling, I get the impression that they may speak from a different viewpoint than many of us younger parents.
I think it’s interesting to study the difference between the veterans and the trepidatious swathe of parents taking notes with iPhones instead of notepads.
I’m going to call that difference the ‘Pioneer Spirit’. Here’s why.
It seems to me that our parents and grandparents who survived the World Wars and its Cold War aftermath exude a different attitude to the world, and their children were raised on this spirit. They’re the ones who seem to have the confidence that they can do their research and develop their own programs for teaching their children.
Enter the digital age with a generation raised on Facebook, Pinterest and Snapchat. Within minutes, an overwhelming amount of networking and inspiration blossoms under our tapping fingertips. It is now the norm to be able to personalize our experience of online media and our digital self-expression, which for most, is where it all begins.
Our minds are wired to think in terms of networking, and networking now. 40 years ago, the local parish homeschool meetup was the place to go for connections and updates. Today, it’s a Facebook group, or a Youtube live-stream, or a daily blog.
It might be fair to say that this generation is not the Pioneer Generation anymore, because the time for pioneering has passed. The world has been discovered, and the materials for homeschooling are a Google search away, or on iTunesU.
This being said, here are a couple of traits about millenials that stand out to me, and what we expect from a dream homeschool program.
1. Multitasking Pros
We’ve all been taught to laud the benefits of multitasking, something your neighboring anchorite would have decried no end. (No, I did not just check Facebook.) ;)
We are pros at multiple tabs and apps. Jumping between chats, updates and to-do lists is our comfort zone. The downside to this is that we are hard-wiring ourselves to instantly respond to notifications, which makes distractions hard to resist.
What does that mean for homeschooling? Just that the age-old vision of Johnny bent over his books for hours at a stretch probably won’t work any more. If he’s a high-schooler, he may have his phone nearby playing his top Spotify playlist, and a live hangout with his brother downstairs over who does the dishes.
Allowing for plenty of breaks means fresh opportunities to refocus. In fact, encourage them.
We want a homeschool curriculum that gives us the flexibility to manage our time as we need to. Studies can be divided throughout the week in blocks, or done before lunch, or for the night owls, finished after dinner.
That kind of freedom allows school to be an organic part of your life, and not feel like an obstacle to events, trips and off-the-cuff inspiration.
2. Connected & Networked
Gone are the days when going to meet someone involved putting on your shawl and crossing the street, or riding a buggy off the farm. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram aren’t just “social networks”, it’s how we share and get our information. I know I do; what’s an RSS feed? I’ll just ‘like’ the fan page.
In the same vein, many are leery of homeschooling alone, and don’t explore this option because they are afraid of having to discover the New World without a GPS. And they’re right; we want to share our questions, hacks and experiences with a community of like-minded families. Many heads make light work.
Don’t get me wrong, we’re plenty interested in DIY and figuring it out. So long as there’s a Pinterest board to give us ideas. (Yes, I’m on Pinterest.)
We expect our homecshooling program to come with this awareness and have set up simple things like a busy Facebook page, the ability to share student achievements among the community, the option to search for local homeschoolers, and community-building activities like contests. We don’t want to just homeschool, we want to join a bigger family, and that means logging into an existing world of support, communication and inspiration. Even having real graduation ceremonies.
Millennials have learned the hard way: you can play by all the rules and still not get a golden ticket into adulthood… So the other important ingredient we’ll emphasize to our kids (besides independence) is network building. It’s important who you know, and how you connect. It’s where opportunities come from. The No-School Kids
3. Recognizing Success
One of the fears new homeschooling parents have is that no one will be there to affirm them and let them know that their students are doing well. Some have the confidence to grade their children’s work and drive them to new academic levels.
I think the rest of us would appreciate a professional taking a look at how things are going and being liberal with red ink and gold stars.
“Millennials need to feel like what they are doing is important and that they are on the right track. Yes, it sounds a little needy… and it is. But, many Millennials grew up with constant praise from their Baby Boomer parents. It’s what they know.” Lydia Abbot
In today’s world, having the grades necessary to get into a good college is what animates many decisions. We expect that the homeschool curriculum we pick will be accredited and packed with professionals available to answer questions, grade what we submit, and most importantly, not take a month to do so. We want a situation where we can upload our work, have someone grade it, and send it back with corrections.
Sounds more like online school, or distance learning. Well, this model is here, and it’s here to stay. Distance learning has become a norm for many graduates looking to further their education after school. The benefits are undeniable, so homeschooling should have them too.
4. Work Hard, Play Hard
I think that part of the rebellious attitude in our generation comes from a dissatisfaction with the workaholic mentality. Many of us grew up where it was the norm, and perhaps felt we missed out on opportunities to spend time having fun with friends and family. This may be why we draw a hard line when it comes to keeping recreation in our schedules, and being determined to keep it there.
The dream homeschool program allows us the freedom to follow the normal school year as needed, but also provides the flexibility to be as detailed or as general as required. Some students are fast-paced and brilliant, and devour all the suggested reading, tasks and tests assigned. Others just want to get back into the sand fort, or finish taking apart the family car. We want a program that fits to the child’s needs, not the child to the program.
We want the freedom to be able to pack up and take a trip across the country, or visit Grandma’s horse farm in Montana for a week. The perfect homeschool curriculum allows us to study from anywhere, allowing families to keep that balance between work and play.
5. Give & Get Feedback
Far too often we have been burned by scam promotions and locked into bothersome schemes. Businesses have realized that the attitude of the confident, corporate professional doesn’t always work.
Today they work hard to provide the same excellence but with a new attitude; the “transparent friendship”. Brands are now developed with community in mind, where our feedback and responses are a valued part of developing the product.
The homeschool program we want will have real people on the end of the phone, folks who understand what we’re going through, and are competent to help us through tight spots. We want specialists who will value our opinion, listen to us, and improve the program based on our needs.
Where is this Dream Homeschool Program?
Is there a program available that hits all these points?
A program that:
- Is academically excellent with over 30 years of experience and staffed with experienced professionals?
- Has content developed for grades pre-K through Grade 12?
- Fosters an online community through message boards, social media, student achievements, contests, etc?
- Has the ability to submit work to graders and get a response back within days?
- Provides enough curricular detail and flexibility so that we can plan the student’s days or weeks according to their needs?
- Actively listens to our feedback and actually picks up the phone?
- Has libraries of online content such as videos, study guides, supplemental audio and more?
And for Catholics, we want a curriculum where the material is gilt with the beauty and intelligence of our Faith, so that from their earliest years, children will grow in an atmosphere of reverence and detail about Catholicism.
We want nothing less than a program whole-heartedly devoted to the cultivation of tomorrow’s leaders as strong Catholics who know what it means to be a faithful and intelligent child of the Church.
All this is available through your friendly, neighborhood Seton Home Study School.
Coming to a dinner table near you!