I set up a table at the local farmers market today, to invite people to talk about building kids’ lives around who they already are, as an alternative to struggling in programs where they just don’t fit.  I talked to parents, grandparents, kids, former teachers, a physician, and a speech therapist.  I got the impression that people are interested in talking about issues of learning and pathfinding in new ways.

Just before I left, a small group of young adults who’d been working nearby came over to find out what I was up to.  I told them a little about how I work with kids – looking for ways to make it possible for their lives to start right away, not later, after they’ve finished getting ready for life.  Their participation in the conversation was intent and intense, which makes sense.  They’re the ones who are at the place in their lives where these questions and issues are at the forefront whether they want them there or not.

They’re busy figuring out what to do next:  Should they Just Get a Job?  Should they commit to another chunk of education (either because they want what it will offer or because it will mean they don’t have to decide what to do for another couple of years)?  Should they venture down some other less beaten path?

If you know a young person who’s facing this kind of inquiry, I invite you to remember what a gift it can be (particularly from parents, other relatives and trusted adults) to have the chance to talk through such large-looming options without the tangle of judgment and opinion that is so easy to include.  It’s not easy to do, but it’s worth the effort.

And further, it’s worth figuring out how to make sure that other youngers don’t have to wait until they’re out on their own to work through some of the questions of where they might fit, belong, thrive.

* I haven’t mentioned the Teenage Liberation Handbook lately – for anyone who’s interested in pathfinding, and looking for resources to support it at any age, it’s a great reference. And another for the older young folk among us – Jenny Blake’s Life After College blog (helpful with or without college – a reminder that it doesn’t all just fall into place for anyone upon diploma receipt; there’s always figuring and discerning to do).