Parenting journey

Goal: Help your teen learn how to learn on their own.

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Pursuing an informal education can be a valuable path for many teens, offering flexibility, specialized learning opportunities, and the ability to tailor education to specific interests or career goals. Here's how you, as a parent can support your teens in pursuing informal education pathways.

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1 | Discuss their interests and goals

Open conversation

Start with a conversation about their interests, passions, and long-term goals. Understanding what motivates them will help guide the process.

Research together

Look into fields or industries that align with their interests to identify potential learning paths and opportunities.
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2 | Explore informal education options

Online courses

Investigate platforms offering courses in their area of interest, such as Coursera, Udemy, Khan Academy, Alison.com or specialized industry websites.

Workshops and seminars

Look for local or virtual workshops, seminars, and webinars that offer hands-on learning experiences.

Community college classes

Some community colleges offer non-credit courses or workshops that can be a great resource for informal learning.

Apprenticeships and internships

Explore opportunities for hands-on learning in a work environment, which can provide valuable experience and networking opportunities.

Volunteering

Encourage volunteering in relevant organizations or projects, which can offer practical experience and insights into their field of interest.

3 | Set learning goals together

Specific objectives

Help them set specific, measurable goals for what they want to achieve through their informal education.

Timeline

Create a realistic timeline for achieving these goals, including short-term and long-term milestones.
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4 | Help them create a structured plan

Learning schedule

Develop a schedule that allocates time for learning activities while balancing other commitments such as work or extracurricular activities.

Diverse learning sources

Encourage a mix of learning sources to cover theory, practical skills, and industry insights.

5 | Encourage them to develop a support network

Mentors and professionals

Encourage them to connect with mentors or professionals in their field of interest for guidance and advice.

Online communities

Join online forums, social media groups, or communities related to their interests for additional support and resources.

6 | Encourage real-life practice

Projects

Suggest working on personal projects that apply what they're learning in real-world scenarios.

Showcase work

Help them find ways to document and showcase their work, such as creating a portfolio, blog, LinkedIn profile, or YouTube channel.

7 | Teach self-discipline and time management

Self-motivation

Discuss the importance of self-motivation and discipline in pursuing informal education.

Time management tools

Introduce them to tools and apps that can help manage their learning schedule and track progress.
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8 | Help them evaluate and adjust the plan

Regular check-ins

Schedule regular check-ins to discuss progress, challenges, and adjust the learning plan as needed.

Flexibility

Be open to changing the direction of their learning path if their interests evolve or if they discover new opportunities.

9 | Encourage reflection and continuous learning

Reflect on learning

Encourage them to reflect on what they've learned, how they've applied it, and what skills or knowledge they want to develop next.

Lifelong learning

Instill the value of continuous learning and staying curious and engaged in their field of interest.

10 | Encourage them to document and certify learning when possible

Certificates and credentials

Encourage them to pursue certifications or credentials available for their informal learning activities, if applicable.

Record keeping

Help them keep a detailed record of courses taken, skills learned, and projects completed for future educational or career opportunities.
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Supporting your teen in pursuing an informal education requires guidance, encouragement, and flexibility. By following these steps, you can help them build a personalized learning journey that aligns with their passions and career aspirations, emphasizing the value of lifelong learning and personal development.

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