*Source: The Free Dictionary
Most of us are familiar with the idea of an apprentice (and no, I’m not referring to the popular TV reality show!), but what relevance can it have for us today and what role can it play in our home school?
The system of apprenticeship was developed in the later Middle Ages and was a mechanism for training young men (and even young women) for a specific trade or craft. Formal apprenticeships still exist today, but are not usually available for young people under the age of 17. What value, if any, could an informal apprenticeship provide your homeschooled tween or teen?
This month, my oldest (14 in November), will begin a sort of apprenticeship to a local horse trainer. He discovered an interest in horses this summer, and recently asked for the opportunity to work for this individual in exchange for riding lessons.
An apprenticeship can be a great opportunity to learn useful skills while allowing a young person a safe place to stretch his or her wings and become more independent. At our house, we are big believers in life-learning, and the chance to incorporate work that will require responsibility and accountability is as important as learning history or algebra, in some cases, perhaps more.
If the work is purely volunteer, it’s important that there be a fair exchange, for instance, the above mentioned help around the stables in exchange for riding lessons. Some other ideas for apprenticeships could be: assisting an artist or art teacher in exchange for lessons, learning computer programming or other technical skill in exchange for office help, assisting a carpenter in exchange for the chance to learn how to build. Anything that your child is interested in can be turned into an occasion for developing a new skill under the guidance of a professional. Often, just asking someone you know if they would be willing to take on a young apprentice in exchange for some help in their business is the best way to get your little worker out into the world.
As homeschoolers we often have a unique set of circumstances which allow us to structure our days a little differently. Be open to giving your older homeschooled student a little freedom when choosing how they spend their time, remembering that important life skills and lessons can be learned outside the home as well as inside.
Of course, our children have been apprenticed to us — perhaps (and hopefully) we are training the next generation of homeschool parents!
I’ll leave you with a quote that I saw earlier this week that reminded me of the importance of becoming more than we think we can be. I guess I’m still a work in progress, as we all undoubtedly are. It’s nice to know we’re not finished yet, isn’t it?
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects. — Robert Heinlein