Creating Opportunities for Your Homeschooled Teen


Creating Opportunities for Your Homeschooled Teen

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Homeschooling the younger years is a special time when homeschool parents are working on basic skills like reading and math. We all know the exhilaration we experience when our students learn to read and conquer long division! By the time we reach the high school years, the goals change and so does our game plan. Creating Opportunities for Your Homeschooled Teens is all about how to help your teens navigate the high school years while having authentic experiences which prepare them for what lies ahead- whatever that may be.

Collaborate with Others

Many families work out small co-ops and work with each other to provide certain areas of instruction, but collaborating can also mean gathering to work on things outside of the regular subject areas.

  • Trade Expertise with Another Homeschooling Mom– Families here will often trade off course work based on what they are good at. Are you the science teacher? Trade foreign language instruction for some science classes. The possibilities are endless if you know how to connect with others.
  • Work in Groups with Other High Schoolers– Even if you aren’t trading instruction, you can meet together for classes which are more difficult to do alone. It’s popular to co-op science with another family or two to keep each other accountable to the task of teaching a subject you may not enjoy.
  • Form a Writer’s Workshop– I love to host a workshop for teens. A writer’s workshop can be a way to encourage kids who love writing or not so much. Working together with peers is a favorite for most teens.
  • Meet for Book Club– Book clubs are a great way to get teens talking about good books together. Often they challenge members to read books they normally would overlook.

Strive for Independence

High school is a good time to add on to the independence you’ve probably been working on since middle school. By the time your students graduate high school, you want to be sure they can study and work on their own.

  • Discuss Goals Together– Teens need to be in the driver’s seat of their education. Bring them to the table to discuss goals. These can be long or short term. Shorter is good when you are just starting out. Having students be a part of the discussion on their goals is especially important for kids who aren’t as motivated as others. They need to buy in and a good way to move in that direction is to make them part of the process.
  • Provide Opportunities for Ownership– We all know our kids and some students are ready before others, but it is critical that teens own their work. Part of that is being a decision maker when it comes to academic work, but it also means taking responsibility for what needs to be done. And getting it done.
  • Get a Volunteer Job– Libraries, science centers, ministries are examples of places teens can find volunteer work. If you can, look for a volunteer position in an area of interest. It’s perfect for exploring fields your teens want to learn more about.
  • Look for a Part Time Job– Our son worked in a grocery store and learned a lot. Employment in an area of professional interest is great, but even a retail or fast food job and teach a lot of independence. Even better if they live close enough to work to get themselves there and back.
  • Start a Business– Our 9th grader considered a camp counselor job at a local sewing shop for their sewing camps and decided she’d rather teach her own classes than just helping out all summer. She has been working with one group of girls all year and just added a new class to her week. I’ll be blogging more about this in the future, but it’s been a good experience for her. Rebecca’s niche really is teaching others to sew. Entrepreneurship offers excellent experiences for increasing independence.

Seek Mentors for Your Teens

As our students get older, we transition from being teachers to being mentors for our high schoolers. While parents make one set of wise mentors, it can be beneficial to have others come alongside your teens.

  • Character Builder– A person who can come alongside you as parents to speak wisdom into their life. This person can be a grandparent, aunt or uncle, or a family friend.
  • Expert in the Field– A person who is knowledgeable in the area your student is studying.
  • Niched Experts– A person who holds a specific field of study and works with your teen. For example, Ethan was mentored by a master falconer while he was learning and preparing to get his falconer’s license. This was a required mentor for Ethan’s goal and he learned a lot.

When it comes to mentors, even with older kids, make sure you know the person well and plan appropriate environments for them to meet.

Online Experiences for Homeschooled Teens

There are a variety of online classes available in various platforms for homeschooled high schoolers. Some provide credit and others may give a certificate of completion if you do all the work and turn it in to the professors. Whatever path you choose, using online courses is a great way to expand your teen’s horizons at home.

  • The Potter’s School– Online courses for high school in all the major subject areas plus electives. Our son took Worlds of Imagination both Fantasy and Science Fiction Literature as a junior this year.
  • PA Cyber School– Some of our friends locally have benefited from taking classes through public online cyber schools.
  • Community College– Locally we have CollegeNow which offers credits to high school students. It can also be used as a path to a high school diploma.
  • Coursera– Online education platform which provides courses from universities from around the world.
  • University Classes– Offered for free and for grade or pass/fail from major colleges and universities all over the world. For example, MIT has a wide range of courses available for free online.

Resources for Homeschooling High School

I’m always on the lookout for books and websites to use as a reference and to provide perspective as we navigate our homeschooled teens through to graduation and beyond. Here are a few I’ve found helpful:

  • The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling Teens– This is a nice reference for general items. Not everything in this book works for us, but there is a lot of good advice all in one place here.
  • The Home Scholar– Lee Binz has many resources for parents on homeschooling high school and preparing for college. She often has her little coffee break for free. They speak about a variety of topics related to getting your teens to the next step after high school.
  • College without High School– I adore this book which speaks to the heart of our homeschool. The author has excellent advice on how to approach high school in a way that seeks to capitalize on the experiences homeschooling allows our teens.
  • The Well Planned Day High School Planner– While I prefer a plain spiral for recording our homeschooling, this planner has some thorough text available which provides a good timeline for what and when to do certain things during high school. It’s an invaluable reference tool.

Blog, She Wrote Should My Homeschooled Teen Get a Part Time Job?

More Blog, She Wrote Resources on Opportunities for Homeschooled Teens

We have two high schoolers and a middle schooler this year and in another two weeks, we’ll officially have three homeschooled teens in our home!

The main thing when it comes to homeschooling teenagers is to keep pouring into their niche and to help them to reach out for experiences and resources. The high school years at home have such potential to shape their future in a positive way.

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The 10 Best Things about Teaching an Artist

Ten Best Things about Teaching an Artist

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

Living with an artist makes life interesting! They approach life from a different point of view and being science people, it keeps my husband and I on our toes. I wouldn’t trade it for the world! Here are The 10 Best Things about Teaching an Artist.

Artists are Creative People

The 10 Best Things about Teaching an Artist

Maybe that goes without saying, but what are some benefits of knowing creative people?

  • They are Makers. There is always something in progress and artists are ingenious about working with what’s available.
  • Artists make beautiful things out of their imagination and experience.
  • They are willing to take risks. I have a saying on the wall in of my studio, “Creativity is having the courage to make mistakes.” Truth.
  • Artists love to experiment with new media. Maybe that’s part of the risk taking quality, but I love to see her try something new.

Benefits of Teaching Creative Students

10 Best Things about Teaching an Artist

Sometimes it’s difficult to teach creative souls. If you have a creative student, then you might know what I’m talking about. There are messes and lots of risk taking! There’s always something in progress and a creative person is fulfilled by creating and maybe not as much by mundane tasks like math or cleaning up rooms. But, there is a silver lining. Here are a few examples:

  • They bring peace by taking the time notice the everyday- and sketch it.
  • I can order up hand drawn maps for any occasion. Such as for an atlas for our Narnian Adventure co-op class we teach together.
  • Our home gets filled with beautiful artwork. Right now I have a seasonal gallery of trees on canvas in our powder room. I’m only waiting on summer. Also, I commissioned Rebecca to make an Americana quilt which we had a local artist print an image of onto tile. Dan finished installing our new backsplash above the stove which turned out gorgeous. In every way.
  • Learning is self-motivated and Rebecca finds ways to educate herself and try new things. Her art abilities grow as a result.
  • She builds on her passion for creativity and finds new outlets all the time. Homeschooling gives her the time to experiment and pour in. The results are so satisfying.
  • Rebecca finds creative ways to do work. She is often working on commissioned projects and even teaches a group of girls to sew. We are working on putting together a beginner level class. She plans and implements lessons and she’s a very patient encourager.

Resources for Teaching Creative Students

Springtime-Splendor-Collage-600How do you nurture your creative students? Listed below are some ways we work with our creative students.

  • New Art Classes– We are enrolled in Springtime Splendor by Alisha Gratehouse. We’ve been following along with her mixed media seasonal classes. This one begins Monday, April 6th. Early registration is still going on at $48. Regular price is $60. There will be 20 projects in all. Join us!
  • Crafty Math– Knowing how to incorporate math into creative endeavors has gone a long way to our daughter having the endurance and knowledge to tackle her regular math studies. The power of math in creativity cannot be underestimated.
  • High School Art Plans– Some of our plans for art credits
  • Resources for High School Art– Rebecca is a high school freshman and will have 4 credits of art in addition to her sewing and design credits for high school.
  • Sewing & Design– A look at Rebecca’s projects. This is an ongoing page so it isn’t complete as is.

It’s challenging to mentor an artist, but it’s also very rewarding. What are your favorite things about teaching and artist?

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Should My Homeschooled Teen Get a Part Time Job?

Blog, She Wrote Should My Homeschooled Teen Get a Part Time Job?

Last year our oldest wanted to get his first job so he could earn the money for a writing conference he wanted to attend. NY is a long way from Kansas, so even outside of the conference cost, transportation in getting there was not insignificant. My husband made a deal with Ethan. He said if Ethan could earn the money for the workshop itself, including room and board for the week, he would make sure Ethan got to Kansas.

Ethan accepted the challenge and began his search for paid work. He reached out to a family friend for continued yard work. He offered his services to a local MOPS group for their paid childcare. And he applied to a local grocery store about a mile away from our home. All three contacted him at once and he took them all on. Aside from the two smaller jobs, he began working as a cashier at a grocery store.

He had to learn quickly how to balance three jobs and his school work! But, in the end, he earned the money he needed (along with a gift from his grandparents which he was allowed to accept after earning a certain amount on his own) with in a few months- in time to sign up for the workshop. In turn, Dan took the week off from work, rented a car, and drove Ethan out to Kansas for a great week.

How do you answer the question, Should My Homeschooled Teen Get a Part Time Job?

Benefits of a Part Time Job

There are so many benefits to a teen having a part time job. Some of them are obvious like having the opportunity to make money! Some may not be so obvious or some may not see them as benefits. With a job, a teen can learn:

  • Skills of a part time job
  • How to work with the public- this is a skill which goes a long way. I could do a whole post just on the stories he brings home. It was quite entertaining those first few months. He even had a marriage proposal in his checkout line!
  • Work with others who are not like you- the homeschooling community can be fairly homogenous. He’s met all kinds of people both as coworkers and customers.
  • How to work with all kinds of bosses
  • Practices interview skills- we made Ethan practice counting back change to prepare for his interview at the grocery store!
  • Independence
  • Work with personal finances- let’s face it, they will earn a lot of money! (for a teen with no other real expenses)
  • Balance work with academics and fun
  • Allows teens to make a goal and meet it
  • Gives work experience in general- which looks great on college applications, particularly from a homeschooler

Challenges of a Part Time Job

There are some challenges which come with a teen having a regular job. Make sure to consider his situation before deciding together whether or not it’s a good idea at any particular time. For example,

  • Everyone isn’t like you and learning to work together can be difficult.
  • Bosses are not always easy to work for…or nice
  • Adjusting to a work schedule
  • Balancing other pursuits with a work schedule- learning when to ask off and when to know not to
  • Building physical stamina for the job- being on your feet all day or for several hours takes time to get used to. Even as a teacher, I was always so tired the first week back to school.
  • Transportation- which needs to be a factor in choosing where you will apply for a job. We chose a store about a mile away in a small strip mall so that getting him there and back would not always need to be done by us.

Should My Homeschooled Teen Get a Part Time Job?

How Do I Know If It’s The Right Thing for My Teen?

A job isn’t right for every teen and not every job is right for every teen. You have to know your teen and have a decent guess that the job they would do. Does your teen fit any of these descriptions?

  • Does your teen want to meet a financial goal?
  • Ready for a step up in independence
  • Could use some practice at fulfilling responsibility– Our son could use some tightening up of his schedule in order to help use his time better.
  • Has an interest in a field where there is an opportunity to work- even volunteer work at a place of interest can lead to employment later on.

Our Experience with The Part Time Job

So, once Ethan was working for a time and he began meeting his goals how was it going?

  • Reached his financial goal– He wanted to earn money for a writing workshop many miles away and the job helped him to meet the goal quickly.
  • Achieved his academic goal– Being successful with the financial goal meant reaching his academic goal and he attended the summer writing workshop.
  • Learned to work for difficult people– There’s a lot of turnover in this store and it’s not always easy, but he stuck with it.
  • Experience first hand that people aren’t always the same as you are– he knew this in his head, but it’s been a good experience for him to see that not everyone is like us and our family. It’s given him a whole new appreciation for us!
  • Given him independence– this job is his thing. Based on his proximity to the store, he can walk, ride a bike, or take the bus. All of these mean he doesn’t have to rely on us (though he does like door to door service).
  • Taught some good financial lessons– He’s able to make his own decisions regarding spending as we help him to practice saving, tithing, and spending. However, outside of engaging/purchasing something off limits, we let him choose how he spends it. Lots of lessons here!
  • Practiced responsibility and maturity– He’s stepped it up to be at work and to keep track of his schedule. He’s grown a lot from having the job.

What Have We Learned As Parents of a Teen with a Job?

We learned a lot from this experience as parents. Some of them took me by surprise.

  • This job is our son’s– It’s not ours. It’s his gig and his responsibility.
  • We helped him to navigate difficult situations– From home. Since it is his job, it is important not to run interference which is a new thing for us as parents of teens, right?
  • Make sure you know the labor laws for teens– Does your state require “working papers”? In the 80s, working papers were not a thing. Find out how often and how many hours they can work at 15-17 years old. In NY, one set of laws covers 14-15 year olds and there’s another for 16-17 year olds. We had to provide a physical form from our doctor and other proof of age and register him as a working teen with the school nurse at our local high school. Once your teen turns 16, they get a new form and that very day must report for a new set of working papers before they can work another shift at work.
  • Homeschooled teens can only work when public schooled teens can work– Resist the urge to have them work during school hours because it’s against the law. This was actually one issue we worked very closely with Ethan on because he was being scheduled during school hours. He was successful in making sure he was schedule during non-school hours, but just remember, the employer will not always pay attention to this piece of the law.
  • Not everyone thought it was a good idea– to have our son work. This is the one that surprised me. We actually got a lot of comments from our peers questioning us on the decision to allow him to work. When we were teens, many of us had jobs. Have you noticed that not as many teens work in high school? Academic pursuits have favor over part time work and I had so many people ask me why he was working. Because he likes money was my regular answer, but I often want to ask back, “Why not?” And, as one commenter pointed out, activities are an issue as well. But, I’ll save that discussion for another post!

In the end, Ethan was proud to have met his goal last year and we were proud of him as well. He worked at the store until mid-September, when I did break the interference rule and took his series of medical leave papers to his bosses. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with Lyme Disease which he’d had for six months before a diagnosis. He spent several months this fall as a very sick teen, unable to work.

He is excited for the chance to return, but he is still recovering and is experiencing significant Post Treatment Lyme Syndrome. Perhaps I will blog about it one day, but for now just know that it is a long road back to feeling normal. He’s a good sport and we are still very proud of him!

So, do your homeschool teens work at part time jobs?

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