Preparing My 5 Year Old for the Workforce
Homeschooling / Parenting / Unschooling

Preparing My 5 Year Old for the Workforce

Preparing My 5 Year Old for the Workforce

Does that title sound as ridiculous to you as it does to me? I hope so! But, alarmingly, this seems to be what some people think we should be doing. I’m not even kidding. I see a lot of comments from people like this…

‘Kids have to learn about the real world’

‘Kids have to get used to doing things they don’t want to do’

‘When they grow up they will need to know how to listen to other people and do what they say, regardless of what they want to do’

‘Homework is good for kids because when they’re in the workforce they’ll need to accept they need to work after hours’

‘One day they’ll have a boss who’s not going to care what they’re interested in, they just have to do the work’

‘Life isn’t meant to be easy, they better get used to it’

Firstly, what a sad pessimistic view of life. Secondly, enough with the ‘real world‘ thing. I’m not sure when school became the ‘real world’ but as far as I’m concerned we’re living in the real world every day.

I heard all these ‘arguments’ when deciding to homeschool my eldest child. When my child was 5. Five years old! I should be preparing my 5 year old for a (rather uninspiring sounding) working life at the age of 5? Excuse me while I disagree.

Preparing My 5 Year Old for the Workforce

To me, my child is not only a future worker and her purpose in life is far bigger than that. My child is a person. A person right now! Not half a person, just waiting to grow up. So I live in the present with her and respect and nurture who she is now. The best thing I can do to help her grow up to her future potential is to support her and encourage her and parent her for who she is today. To inspire her and help her to find her passion and goals.

What is the other option? To purposefully make life less wonderful for her so that she won’t be disappointed when she becomes an adult? Who says that you can’t follow your dreams as an adult anyway? Why should we accept that life is about growing up to get a job that you may not like and being stuck there forever? No, I won’t be preparing my children for that. I will be preparing them to find what they love and make a life out of that. To be happy and fulfilled. I expect that they will have to do things that they don’t really want to at times to get where they want to go, but they will handle that because they will be motivated by their goals. Just like everyone else. Being forced to do things you don’t want to in the past does not make you better prepared for following directions in the future, though it might make you more resentful and pessimistic. And there is no expiry date on learning new things.

Even if my children do need more preparation for the workforce, I’m quite sure we can accomplish that a little closer to the time. Starting at age 5 is overkill surely. Childhood is a onetime thing and I highly doubt you can enjoy it too much.

When I hear things like ‘kids have to get used to doing things they don’t want to do’ what I really hear is ‘you need to prepare your kids for an unsatisfying life’. No thanks, we’re too busy making our own wonderful lives.

Preparing My 5 Year Old for the Workforce

Β “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined”Β  -Henry David Thoreau


February 6, 2015 at 3:37 pm

Yes!!! This agrivates me to no end. It saddens me too. That people really have this thinking. I think it must all boil down to fear. These people that say these things are truly fearful. Fearful of the unknown, fearful of anything deemed different. How sad for them to live their lives this way.
Your girls are truly blessed to have you as their mum and wise words that I will remember next time this comment comes my way.
Beautiful photos too πŸ™‚

February 6, 2015 at 6:26 pm

It is so refreshing to read your posts and hear my feelings are shared! Yep I get those comments..I am sure most of us who see beyond these ridiculous notions have the same inner feelings and the constant comments make you feel like you are somehow wrong. I just am continually surprised by how many people make such comments! I’m with you.. allowing my children to choose what they will and won’t accept and enjoy their childhoods as we also take our time to enjoy the many wonders of life. Thank you for sharing. Kate

February 6, 2015 at 9:35 pm

Fellow homeschoolers, I am a single mom, who un schools. I started home schooling out of shear frustration with the public school my then 9 and 7 year old were attending. It was damaging and mean and I spent a lot of time doing battle with the system.Admittidly, I started because my youngest son, got sick and part of why he got sick was school. He was frought with anxiety and feeling like he had to make good grades. They both did make excellent grades, not because of anything I really did or didi not do.
But, my oldest was bullied by teachers and I was tortured by teachers, because my son’s had long hair, because one was dreamy and acted out. It’s very hard to change a life time of beliefs about education and the world of child rearing and the world of work.
I want my children to have an amazing life.I personally hated school and I do believe that a lot of my feelings about myself and not fitting and trying cae from that place. If you are fortunate enough to live a life where you have escaped the soul crushing , mind numbing job and you can freely make your choices without starving and have the ability to pay your bills, then you are probably more inclined to allow your children to do the same. Fear is a factor. Being a part of the school system, where I thought for sure my values and my kids would be respected and not finding that has made it’s mark. There is still the nagging voice of teachers, telling me my son was weird and that he was a non- conformist, and that he had ADD or some other kind of mental disorder that kept him from wanting to fall into line. Telling him, that he was smart enough to go to Harvard , but wouldn’t be going because of his behavior, which of course was age appropriate, but deemed odd and defiant in a world that expects kids to be mini adults and want to sit all day long. There is the outside wolrd and then there is us. Friends were lost, battles still continue. And I worry everyday. I was excited about the prospects of home schooling, certain, I could make this year better than last.I felt confident that I would be able to get them engaged in all kinds of activities that would allow them to learn and to be happy.I felt certain I was able to teach them some of if not all of what they would need to learn. My goals were not huge, reading writing and math.. I pay a lot of money for them to go to a little ” school” where they do some writing and some whatever else it is. But, no math is happening , no structure is happening at all and I am an anxious mess, with no time for myself. My youngest son, is not very interested in learning at all. He has a single focus of either playing on the wii, or his tablet or watching t.v. His other interests are sports and sports.When in school, he thrived on many levels, he loved seeing a grade of A. he loved being surrounded by kids and friends and getting honor role. He is not driven to do any “learning” without those structures in place.Also, they battle with me constantly for even asking them to turn off their gadgits and do some work.The struggle is with me. When they went to school, the struggle was with someone else. I do worry that they will be unable to survive in the world. I mean thrive, not just land a menial job for little pay. Been there , done that, still doing it .I suppose on some level I do agree that children do need to learn those things that school teaches and though it is pessimistc, how many people on the planet live that life? I don’t think kids need to know algebra at the age of 12. I don’t think that reading history really does anything to foster their growth. I have nothing against history. I simply never ound it purposeful .I like history, but it didn’t ever get me a job or make me into who I am today. I mean the studying of presidents and American History.
I really would have liked to have grown up with some guidance. I still don’t feel like I am prepared to make it in this world. To pretend, that the world is kind, that the world is not competitive and that we can avoid lots of dull and unpleasant tasks ( boredom) is not pessimistic. I get up everyday, and make breakfast, I don’t particularly want to. I grocery shop and would rather not, I am not exactly thrilled with doing laundry or cleaning up a house after three other people. I know I could just choose not to. I could leave the sink filled with dishes, and the laundry could never get done. But, would that really make me happy?
I live in America, wher health insurance is crazy exspensive, where everything is crazy exspensive. Had I chosen another path and joined the people who went to ork in a dull job and worked their way up. I might have savings and it might not be so hard. Poverty and constantly trying to make ends meet is exhausting. So, my point, I get consumed with wanting to teach my kids how to make money and how to be happy in this very , unsupporting wolrd of creative. I did not follow the path, I didn’t even know how to follow the payh and I guess I do blame my parents. I had an amazing life , I travelled, I painted, I studied, I avoided that trap of the job. But, I know in my heart I avoided that trap, because I did not know how to get a job in any field. I was clueless as to how the world worked and I had no clue how to even do a resume. When I didn’t have children, it was not a huge deal accept I still felt like I was on the outside. Everyone else had a job, everyone else had a career and savings and they were able to have a home and they all seemed mostly happy. So, let’s not slame people for being afraid. Fear out of love and fear out of wanting to give your child the best possibly means to tak care of themselves is not pessimistic. If my son’s at 10 and 12 were even slightly motivated to help the planet, or had any goals other than playing on games and doing lego’s , It would be great. I beat myself up dailt for my inability to make them do anything. I feel failed as a parent. They go to bed late. they wake up and the day for me is dull. It is not that I do not try, I create projects, I bought work books and I travel by train to have them go to this progressive place to be around children. They take music , which they love, they play basket ball and baseball, and go to a comic book art class, all at great expense , because I do have to travel there and I do have to pay for the course. there are no little free groups of people. And they are both very different, requiring very different activities and parenting. I wish I could relax, I wish that I didn’t feel on the edge of life. They have no home schooling friends close by. Once they were out of school, those close friends they made evaporated and those people no longer call or invite us to events or birthday parties> My youngest son really wants that normalcy. He is not a self directed learner. Neither one of them will ever just pick up a math book, or want to learn a language. My youngest has no curiosity about anything. In school, he was cuirous, he was engaged and he was mostly happy.It’s hard being a home schooling family in a community of traditional schoolers. Their friends as I said, have abandoned them and think they are weird. The wolrd is already measuring them. So, yes I do feel compelled to give them what they need to survive in the wolrd the way it is, not the wolrd the way I want it.
There is plenty of room for those who choose either path. My fear is that I will not have prepared them and they will be lost.

    Claire Witherington
    February 7, 2015 at 1:54 am

    Is it not possible for your youngest to return to school if you honestly feel that he got more from that structure than he does at home? We all worry we’re not doing enough as parents but you can’t let it consume you. They’re learning all the time, even if you don’t think they are. They’re old enough to have some of your fears explained to them too. Good luck xx

    February 7, 2015 at 3:42 am

    You sound really down – do you have any sort of support network at all? It’s important that your choices support your whole family, that includes you! It sounds like it’s been a really hard year.

    In terms of supporting your children’s curiosity and deepening their interests, have you read Lori’s book Project Based Homeschooling? It gives you great ideas for supporting and deepening interests. She has older teens and has an older child facebook group which might be useful.

    It is harder as they grow older to think about your kids’ future, and yes constantly worrying about money is soul-destroying. I hope you’re able to find some support for yourself. Best of luck.

    February 10, 2015 at 9:17 am

    It sounds like you’ve had a really tough time gailen. I hope you can find some support in real life. I second the suggestion of Lori Pickert’s book. It really is fabulous. I’m not sure how else to help from across a screen but I hope you find the answers you need! xx

February 6, 2015 at 10:11 pm

Great post! I homeschooled my children when they were younger (they are all in ps now) primarily so they could have a childhood. Just a few days ago my girls were looking through old photos – playing dress up, painting, riding bikes – and one of them said, “Just think. While we were having all this fun, other kids our age were in school.” Those were wonderful years. I wrote a post just yesterday about preparing your toddler for high school – talk, read, play. Often by the time they get to me, students are burned out and apathetic. I think the fact that they have spent much of their childhoods in rigorous schooling is part of the problem. Kudos to you for giving your kids a wonderful childhood.

February 6, 2015 at 11:12 pm

My child is a person right now. Yes! I love this post. Who am I kidding? I love all of your posts!

February 7, 2015 at 4:11 am

I liked reading your post, and what you’re saying really resonates me. You’re so right to point out the importance of being present with kids and seeing them for who they are now. Love that. Another thought I’m having though is this: While I agree that people shouldn’t artificially make kids’ lives harder or less fun now to prepare them for some hard, no-fun life in the future, I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad idea to encourage kids to learn to deal with some of the harder realities of life. It depends on how you’re doing it. Setting up artificial, uncomfortable situations for kids to sit through, in the name of preparation for a future of sitting through things is something I have a problem with. (Most schools fall into that category, actually.) But encouraging kids to deal with, say, the death of a pet, without trying to distract them or numb them with treats or presents or whatever, is extremely valuable. And I might say that it’s valuable “because they need to learn to deal with the real world,” but what I mean is that an authentic life – in the future AND right now – involves some amount of loss and sadness and grief. And we’re cheating our kids out of some of the richness of life if we try to create a world that’s all sunshine and roses for them all the time. Anyway, just a thought. I actually just wrote a blog post about this very thing titled “Why Broken Hearts Aren’t For Fixing” yesterday, so this was fresh in my mind. Again, I really enjoyed your post and will be trying to keep in mind in my own parenting.

February 7, 2015 at 3:04 pm

I only hope that I raise my son to find something in life that captivates his interest and challenges him for the better.

February 7, 2015 at 3:10 pm

I love this post! Thank you!! I saw you describe this as a rant on Instagram, if this is you ranting, I really appreciate your ranting πŸ™‚

February 9, 2015 at 12:11 pm

I love this post, too. I don’t have kids yet (I’m a graduate student, so I’m still in school) but whenever I discuss unschooling with loved ones, this is one of the first things they say! They always bring up the potential difficulty kids will have with “having to do things they don’t like.” But just because you were never forced to do maths or spelling, doesn’t mean you don’t know how to deal with adversity or difficulty. There are so many ways in which you can learn determination, and I think working towards something you’re truly interested in really helps (like one of your girls learning how to write letters “the right way” simply because she wants too. She’ll write them wrong the first few times, but of course she doesn’t give up, because she wants to learn!).

I do sometimes wonder if all children have a “natural curiosity,” simply because I have little experience with young children myself. But honestly, if I think back to my own childhood, I can’t remember NOT being curious (and the same goes for my brother), so it does seem likely. In any case, I just really enjoy the glimpses into your family’s unschooling life – it gives me a lot to think about and appreciate. Thanks :).

February 9, 2015 at 5:48 pm

Our culture’s attitude to work, life, quality of life and what it even means to be a person is so messed up. And so we are to accept misery, boredom and lack of fulfillment because the most important thing is to be passive little cogs in the corporate machine. I don’t think so! Great blog post.

    June 15, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    Perfectly put! Amen!

    I love this article. I’ve never heard anything more ridiculous than this. When, in real life, is ok to get bullied? That’s called harassment. When, in real life, is it ok for people to take your lunch money? That’s called petty theft. What you’re preparing your kids for is accepting minor crimes? And since when does a kid grow up doing ONLY what they want? lol. I have a 3 and 4 yr old. They have to do things they don’t want all the time. That’s something learned in any setting of life. I think people will regurgitate any excuse they can to be on the opposing end of something. Closed minded individuals who pretend to be open minded.

February 10, 2015 at 6:45 am

I’ve come to view the “real world” comments and similar as defense mechanisms rather than something the commenter truly believes. People invest their children’s entire futures on the educational system they choose for them. If that choice creates a lot of drudgery, they have to convince themselves it’s a good thing, otherwise they’re subjecting their kids to drudgery for nothing.

I love reading articles like these, and I would love to share them, but people take them as a personal attack. I’m thinking, “Look! School doesn’t have to be tedious. Let’s fight for happier childhoods for everyone!” They’re thinking (and sometimes saying), “Why do you hate all teachers and think I’m a horrible parent for sending my kids there?”

    February 10, 2015 at 9:23 am

    Oh I know that battle. If only people would realise that happiness for my choices does not equal hatred for your choices πŸ™‚

    October 2, 2016 at 4:29 am

    Think it’s how you say it. I’ve read articles that tell parents they’re destroying their kids would by sending them to school and it immediately puts people’s backs up. I have friends who home school and their kids flourish, mine go to school and love it, my 4 year old cries when she has to go sometimes. Less attacking is always better

February 14, 2015 at 4:37 am

I feel further and further away from understanding those questions. @ Karl, I agree, they come from a place of defense, not conviction. But at the top of your post I felt bad for NOT thinking your title was ridiculous. It’s just absurd to think that any educator could know what ‘workforce’ we’re preparing our students to join. But homeschooling three older boys I often feel the weight of knowing I’ve taken it upon myself to prepare them to someday support a family. I wouldn’t have it any other way, and it makes the moments we share all the more sweet as I wonder about their future. “We’re too busy making our own lives wonderful.” Yes! Wonderful now in ‘school’ and later, in the workforce.

July 8, 2015 at 4:54 pm

just brilliantly said! I’m trying to set up a nomadic lab here in France for kids to be able to keep their creative spark, imagine freely, spark and nurture their passions and learn through play, and meet passionate adults . I really want it to exist one day!

May 26, 2016 at 6:34 am

The civilized human race is so brainwashed into thinking the only way to live is to work at a job you hate and make money so you can buy stuff. This is just an accepted way of life, and any other way is deemed “crazy”. I think it’s insane to spend year after miserable year spending all day doing something you hate.

October 2, 2016 at 4:19 am

This is a bit one sided and I don’t know many people who would say that’s why they’re sending their kids to school. Sometimes kids will have to do things they don’t like to (my daughter hates baths and another hates eating anything other than chocolate, work in progress) and creating good habits when young is a good thing. Boundaries are important and not everyone finds their passion straight away and may have to do work they don’t necessarily enjoy, it happens a lot whether home schooled or mainstream school. I think this is quite a narrow minded article on “how much better home schooling us compared to mainstream”

    October 2, 2016 at 11:16 am

    Clearly I don’t agree as we unschool.
    I don’t think school is in any way practicing ‘good habits’. Neither do I think preparing for a job takes up 5 days a week for 13 years.
    People don’t find their passion when they spend their whole childhood being directed and controlled by other people.

October 2, 2016 at 8:34 am

The argument has existed since the 1950s that education needs to prepare children for a future that will change drastically over their lifetime. When my dad was at school (50’s-60’s) there were no personal computers, no mobile phones, lots of industrial jobs, etc.
When he was an IT teacher, the business studies department wanted students to use a program called Wordstar as it was the industry standard word processor. In 5 years the company had vanished and everybody was using Word.
The important thing is to ensure every child is literate and numerate and then to encourage them to learn and to explore so that they can adapt. For example – a man is made redundant by a machine. He talks to the man setting up the machine “What will you do when they make a machine to do your job?” The second man replies “I’ll get a job making the new machines.”
Finally, people have been talking about technology producing the “leisure society” for over 50 years and it has made about as much progress as the “paperless office”.

December 21, 2016 at 11:14 am

I agree!! Bravo!
I also get nauseous when I hear people say that we need to spank children for the sake reason.. to toughen them up and teach them respect. I’m not sure how violence teaches respect, but it’s become a popular thing for comedians to talk about giving people’s kids a smack (because they don’t have their own kids).. I find the total disrespect for children in our culture so disgusting, and it’s everywhere! I see moms out in public treating their kids to a public dose of discipline far worse than what they give at home, mostly because they’re embarrassed that others are judging their parenting and, in our culture, the more obedient and passive your kids are, the better. That means you’ve done your job as a parent.. You’ve put your foot down and laid down the law. What a sorrowful and heartbreaking way to grow up!! We have so much to learn from our kids.
From one “fringe” (co sleeping, homeschooling, breastfeeding, baby wearing, gently parenting, home birthing) mom to another, I applaud you for this piece!!

Lauren Sisson
March 9, 2017 at 11:43 am

OMG I found your blog through homeschool sisters. Thank you for writing!!!

June 15, 2017 at 3:20 pm

Brilliant as usual!! Thank you!! πŸ˜ŠπŸ™β€οΈ

June 15, 2017 at 3:53 pm

I’ve never done anything I didn’t want to do as an adult…truly! And yes I’ve emptied bins, done filing, made tea and dealt with some obnoxious people! But like you say it has all been to get where I needed to be. Whether it be just to earn me some extra money, or as a a stepping to stone to reach my dreams… it was still my choice. We all have choices. So no I won’t be encouraging my children to do things they don’t want to do, I’ll be encouraging them to follow their dreams whatever they may be.

October 13, 2018 at 1:17 am

I wish you could read my thoughts.

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