Today’s post features a homeschooling site (and Facebook group) run by a friend of mine and a long time friend to Homeschooling for College Credit- Cindy LaJoy. Her page is called Blue Collar Homeschool, and I’m so excited to share it with all of you.
But wait, doesn’t the notion of “blue collar” conflict with earning college credit? Heck no! In fact, injecting college credit into a homeschool program doesn’t mean you only focus on a certain type of education. One thing I’ve learned by meeting thousands of parents my Facebook page is that trying to “define” what successful homeschooling looks like is a fool’s errand.
First, let me introduce you to Cindy and her homeschool family:
“We are “Team LaJoy”! We believe that the family that works together AND plays together, stays together! All of our kids have experienced public education, either in the United States or in orphanage schools overseas. All love learning at home, and the ability to work at their own pace. In our homeschool we have done a wide variety of experiential and traditional learning, with our kids doing such things as studying interior design, purchasing and refurbishing a home that was bank owned, learning about Profit and Loss statements as they help with our businesses, traveling the Lewis and Clark trail, building sheds, pottery, flying planes, and volunteering at the animal shelter, the library, the food bank, the homeless shelter and our local nursing home. We have been out in the world, as well as dedicated to class around our kitchen table! “
Cindy is one of those fantastically enthusiastic people with a lot of passion. When we first spoke, she told me her children had challenges. The topic of our conversation wasn’t homeschooling, but I underestimated HER challenges. Her children include a mix of Dysgraphia, English as a Second Language, Central Auditory Processing Disorder, Gifted and Talented, suspected Dyscalculia, Sensory Processing Disorder, Developmental Delay, Executive Function Disorders, and Speech Impairments.
Moving into high school with our kids and thinking about their futures, it was easy to see that there was an underserved group, and that was families like us…families who had kids not destined for college, who had access to few resources that truly “fit” their child’s needs. Few homeschool online groups speak to those parents of kids whose career aspirations do not include a degree, leaving us feeling inadequately equipped, and as if we are somehow underachievers. I began to develop a passion for helping our kids see the wide variety of career possibilities, not at the sake of eliminating college, but for seeing there were even more choices.”
If I can take a moment to distract you from Cindy’s specific story, I want to caution you against making the mistake that professional guidance counselors make all the time. They “track” students into paths based on early test scores and grades. In my own past, I was “guided” into food service from the moment I set foot in high school. My test scores were average, clearly not “college material.” After learning about Advanced Placement (AP) I had to get special permission to take an AP course in 10th grade (which required my parent’s signature to go against professional advice). My point is that it’s easy to default into the old idea that underachievers go to vocational school and “smart” kids go to college. We have an entire population of kids with part of a college degree who are unemployable because they can read Latin but can’t put together an Ikea bookshelf.
We need “smart” kids in trades too!
If you’ve never heard of Mike Rowe, he’s the champion of blue collar. His own liberal arts education (BA in Communications from Towson University) and career as an opera singer make him an unlikely advocate for the trades, but you might know him better as the host of Dirty Jobs.
My ALL TIME FAVORITE youtube interview is Dirty Job’s Mike Rowe on the High Cost of College (full interview below). Mike Rowe explains how he thinks we’ve gotten off course by encouraging every child to attend a 4-year college.
“if we’re lending money that we don’t have, to kids who really have no hope of paying it back, in order to train them for jobs that clearly don’t exist, I might suggest that we’ve gone around the bend a little bit.” -Mike Rowe
If you want to incorporate some blue-collar classes into your curriculum, or maybe even help your teen select a career in one of the trades, I’m going to list a combination of resources that Cindy pulled together as well as a few of my own. (and some of them are even for college credit!)