By Laurel Núñez

Does your child struggle to sit through lessons? Are books a bore? If the thought of them tearing apart small appliances brings you goosebumps but joy to their inquisitive minds, you may have an apprentice in the making.

Sixteen-year-old Craig Davis* discovered a channel for his energy, out on a limb. These days, the teen assists with rigging and operates a wood chipper; activities that his mother is convinced, will contribute to helping him achieve his larger vocational aspirations.

Even though Craig’s age prevents him from undertaking an official internship or apprenticeship program, it hasn’t deterred him from developing his skills as an up-and-coming journeyman. Craig’s mother was about to begin the process of connecting with business owners, when a family friend reached out. Steve* asked Craig’s mother, Linda*, if Craig had a job lined up for the summer. Craig had previously accepted employment with a concrete company, but his mother enquired about him participating as a co-op student under Steve’s tutelage to gain experience in the field. Steve agreed to show him the ropes and the family began the process of ensuring all necessary paperwork was in place. Linda promptly contacted HSLDA, while Steve spoke with WSIB about safety requirements. The family was encouraged to discover he could participate in the thirteen-week program without jumping through many hoops to get there.

While Craig masters techniques like chainsawing, he also gains continuous feedback and support from his mentor. Rather than waiting until the end of each month to evaluate Craig, Steve does so on a weekly basis. Linda also tracks her son’s progress by having him record  SMART goals (a goal that is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely) for each particular role he is involved in. After completing his stint, Craig will have procured a unique student portfolio, which includes sports involvement, a paper route, and a period where he trained with a blacksmith. During that time, Craig fashioned various items, including pendants and nails and learned a number of essential blacksmithing techniques. Craig was fortunate to have the opportunity to participate in co-op like settings before most publicly educated students are even considered for such a position.

A change of heart

While many of her friends homeschooled, Linda admits it was not originally on her radar when her son started school, “it wasn’t for me,” she muses.Then I began missing my boys and felt like I was missing out on so much of their lives and I realized I wanted to have a say in what they were learning.”

One of Linda’s children had a difficult experience in the public school setting; and, a personal circumstance later arose, which caused the family to reevaluate homeschooling as an option for them. After much thought, research, and discussion with other homeschoolers, Linda determined her family could make it work on one income and the journey began.

An eclectic education

Craig’s schooling is unique and that is partly why he is so successful in his academic career. His mother was able to create an atmosphere in which he was able to thrive, but she recognizes how outside pressures can cause doubt to form.

“Don’t compare your homeschool to others,” Linda suggests. She realizes the comparison trap can be easy to fall into, but works to create an enriched learning environment for the individual needs of her children. Her work is paying off. Homeschooling has allowed her son to pursue his interests and has instilled in him a good work ethic and independence. He often spends his extra time pursuing his passions, which include woodworking and welding.

It is this sort of education that puts Craig ahead of the curve in a time of increased economic uncertainty.

Do you suspect a journeyperson in your family? Here are nine tips for how you can help your protégé take their first steps toward success:

  1. Network! Contact local businesspeople, friends, and family & discover those who are already in the trades.
  2. Connect with HSLDA to ensure necessary documents are filled out prior to beginning an apprenticeship, internship, or volunteer opportunity.
  3. Ask the supervisor or mentor to provide ongoing feedback. A few comments each week will help your student pinpoint areas for improvement & give them confidence in their abilities.
  4. Recognize your skills: Help your student identify soft and hard skills they would like to cultivate in their program, which will help them in future employment.
  5. Look in your community for volunteer positions throughout the year. In a traditional school system, students are required to complete a set number of community service hours in order to graduate. By having your teen participate in a volunteer setting, they will gain a competitive edge and be more appealing to tradespeople and as a prospective employee.  
  6. Some trades can be physically demanding, so encourage your student to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  7. Consider the projected job market for each trade: Canadian arborists earn on average $57,837/year, while more experienced workers earn an average of $70,415/year.
  8. If your teenager is considering a position on the trades, they may want to think about completing a  PLAR/RPL program, which will highlight their competencies and skills.
  9. Seek to obtain a Red Seal Designation for their trade.


To find out more about trade & apprenticeship programs, visit the links below:

Skills Canada – promoting careers in skilled trades and technology (


*Names altered at the request of interviewee.

Personal Interview. 09 May. 2019.


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© CCHE. All rights reserved. The information provided on this site is meant for informational purposes only. The information is distributed with the understanding that it does not constitute legal advice, and it should not be relied upon as such. Readers with legal questions should consult with a qualified lawyer regarding the specifics of their particular situation. Links may be provided to third party sites that some homeschooling families have found to be helpful. You should exercise your own independent skill and judgement in making homeschool resource and curriculum choices for your family.