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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Sewing & Design Project Based Learning

Blog, She Wrote: Sewing & Design Project Based Learning

Last spring Rebecca participated in a local contest sponsored by a reuse sewing shop to create something out of recycled materials. The creation had to include denim. What started as a creative endeavor grew into an opportunity for many new authentic experiences.

The Original Design Project

The original project, called Denim Plus, required participants to refashion old denim into something new. Rebecca took the challenge head on and came up with a dress which was nearly entirely made from reused or recycled materials.

  • Eco-Fashion Design Project – This is the story behind the making of the dress. There are layers upon layers of tulle in a skirt attached to a denim bodice. Cyndi Lauper would have paid for this garment!
  • Eco-Fashion Runway Show – The story of how the designer got to be a model in the fashion show which featured the finished pieces from the Denim Plus contest along with the results of the contest. The show featured how to have a nominal number of clothing items in your closet to pair and wear over and over. The emphasis was on less is better and letting go of “throw away” fashion we’ve all become accustomed to.

Blog, She Wrote: Sewing & Design Project Based LearningThe Invitation to a Curated Exhibit

At the end of the runway show, the director of the show told us that a local gallery curator was interested in having her dress for an upcoming show last summer. We worked with the curator to prepare the curated display of Rebecca’s dress.

  • The show was called, The Common Thread: To Sew or Not to Sew, and was a collection of garments and fabrics which highlight change in the fashion industry.
  • Rebecca’s dress was chosen to represent the reuse and refashion of many materials into one garment.
  • The show was all about change in the fashion world, moving from one-at-a-time garments made with scissors, needles and thread, to unlimited quantities produced by industries that cut with laser beams and held together with seamless seams.
  • The question for us is: do they have anything in common?
  • Rebecca brought the dress in and helped to set up her exhibit.
  • Her dress was in a great spot between the adult & children’s sections of the library within the gallery and had great traffic potential!
  • The documentation she provided for the fashion contest was included in the exhibit.
  • She was the youngest exhibitor, chosen to be among well known local designers and Cornell Fiber Science & Apparel Design students.

Blog, She Wrote: Sewing & Design Project Based Learning


Blog, She Wrote: Sewing & Design Project Based Learning


Blog, She Wrote: Sewing & Design Project Based Learning

Going More In Depth with Project Based Learning

Lots of homeschoolers talk about project based learning, but what does it really mean? To me, it means involving our students in authentic learning experiences that go beyond traditional schooling activities. Part of this is moving past the superficial parts of learning a topic or skill and going to the next layer and the next so that a student uncovers new meaning and applies new knowledge in a meaningful way. What does that look like?

  • Share Work with Others- Find ways for your student to engage others with his or her work. It could be as simple as showing off for neighbors and friends to setting up a community gathering.
  • Help Your Student to Set Goals- The project belongs to the student. The best ones have the student in the driver’s seat on the leading edge of where to go next.
  • Make Plans- Have your student make plans to reach his or her goals.
  • Compile Resources- Can your student identify what he or she will need to meet these goals?
  • Make Decisions- Along the way there will be decisions to make. Help your student to get past any bumps in the road while leaving them to be the one in charge on the project.
  • Take Time to Discuss the Work- Find out how it’s going. Check in on progress. If something seems stalled remind your student of his goals.
  • Make Time for Project Work- This is essential to being successful. Often as our children get older, we think their time is better spent doing more traditional academic work. Fight the urge to regard project time as less important! Large amount of uninterrupted time for doing project work is necessary for going deeper into projects.

Blog, She Wrote: Sewing & Design Project Based Learning

High School Credit with Project Based Learning

As our homeschooled students approach high school many of us who have always done unit studies & other, more relaxed forms of learning begin to think it’s time to “get serious” about academic work and we believe that “nose to the grindstone” is more appropriate. How can a student obtain high school credit for project based learning? I think this topic deserves a whole post, but here are a few thoughts for now.

  • Determine the Course- Based on your student’s area of interest.
  • Discuss Goals- Meet with your student and talk about the skills & concepts they would like to cover during the class.
  • Remember Skills & Concepts- Which will be necessary to learn in order to achieve the goal. Make a list of the areas your student will need to cover.
  • Consider Resources- What resources do you have available to begin working toward the goals the student has set for himself?
  • Start Making Plans- Where does the student want to start?
  • Time- Once again, large quantities of time to explore are best for moving toward an authentic & independent learning experience.
  • Record Keeping- Students will want to keep track of goals met and different avenues traveled based on decisions made. Remember that a 1 credit high school course is roughly three hours of work per week.

Blog, She Wrote: Sewing & Design Project Based Learning

Lessons Learned with the Eco-Fashion Project

In the end, what lessons did Rebecca learn doing the Eco-Fashion Project? The dress took her about 8 weeks from just a thought in her head all the way to the finished dress (considering she did work on other school work during this time). The process was invaluable.

  • Design Work- Especially design for the human form rather than a doll
  • Construction- Sewing new fabrics together like denim with tulle. She had to push through some obstacles to complete her vision.
  • Sharing- Through the contest judging, the fashion show, and the curated exhibit. Sharing also happened in mentoring moments when she needed to discuss her work along the way.
  • New Experiences- Like fashion show culture & being an artist featured in an exhibit
  • Preparing Work for Exhibition- It’s not always about what you like or who you make the garment for. There are other factors and criteria. This was true for both the contest and exhibit.
  • Exhibition- When the time came for the opening night of the gallery, she was on hand to talk with visitors and answer questions about her work.

One of the things Rebecca enjoyed the most about the curated exhibit at the library was the chance to talk with others about her work. They were interested in hearing about her design and the process. She spoke with an art reviewer (see review here) from the local paper for about 20 minutes and she loved every minute of talking with another artist and learning about his work.

As a homeschool teacher, this project took a lot of her time but it was worth every moment to see her solve problems on her own and come up with a design that was whimsical and met all the requirements. Rebecca loved the chance to have her work displayed alongside well known local designers and Cornell Fiber Science & Apparel Design students. Would she do it again? Absolutely! This project experience was a win in every way!

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Portraits of Our Students 2014-2015

Blog, She Wrote: Portraits of Our Students 2014-2015August is rolling right along and as you read this, we are off to our big summer camping trip- a last hurrah for the summer season. You can see our Homeschool Curriculum Choices 2014-2015 to see what each of our students will be up to academically in the coming year. Read on below to see how each one is suited for the studies which they’ve helped to choose.

Portrait of an Eleventh Grader

portrait 1-1

Ethan is entering 11th grade- the big junior year. How are things shaping up for this college bound young man?

  • Still passionate about Star Wars & LEGOS- He’s still making custom LEGO minifigs. Mainly clones from the Clone Wars and they are really good! He designs the decals and adheres them to custom minifig parts.
  • He’s a writer- I mean he loves to write and spends at least an hour a day creating story worlds and adding to his novel and other works. He’s working on a novel and some pieces for an anthology at present.
  • Loves Literature & Book Discussion- In any form and with anyone. Right now he’s reading The Screwtape Letters to me.
  • Adores His Online Community at One Year Adventure Novel- He’s got a lot of buds over there and they talk books and other worlds.
  • He’s a computation king- Able to count back change like no other and is poised to begin Calculus. Calculus!
  • Has as part time job- In April, Ethan got a job at the local grocery store in order to earn money for his trip to the One Year Adventure Novel summer workshop. He met his goal and has started saving for next summer. The job is going strong and means changes to his routine.
  • Blogs at Of Bows and Arrows, Swords and Spears, Briksmith Customs, and Geography Crusades- He’s on again off again, but he’ll be trying to add to these spaces in the coming year. I saw him with a post in his draft on BrikSmith which he had pretty much abandoned!
  • Loves to Play Video Games- What 15yo boy does not?
  • Has a Knack for Languages- But really does not enjoy studying them. Too bad!
  • Started Looking at Colleges- Other than Virginia Tech, his dad’s alma mater and the only place to go because he wants to go to a football game!

Portrait of a Ninth Grader

portrait 4-1

Some days I can hardly believe I have two high schoolers! How did Rebecca get to be in 9th grade? She is the kindest teenage girl I’ve ever known and I can hardly wait to see what this year brings.

  • Creative Pursuits- Are her passion and she spends a great deal of time creating.
  • Loves to Play- This girl still knows how to have just plain fun. No time for angst for her! She remains young at heart. Which makes her especially good at engaging younger kids.
  • Sweet Soul- She is growing up so gracefully and most of the time has a kind word no matter what.
  • Always Carries Yarn- She never goes anywhere without her yarn and a crochet hook. She crochets during sermons (and remembers it better than anyone) and any time there is listening time or down time.
  • Designs & Makes Her Own Patterns- She loves to draft patterns on her own and create from them. Have you seen her Steampunk gown? It’s been invited to the NY State Fair!
  • Keeps a Portfolio Online- But her creative soul doesn’t really enjoy keeping it up to date. Now that she is in high school, the plan is to step it up on posting and blog design.
  • Has the Best Spatial Skills- They are to be envied. She can follow any instruction any time and everything goes together just right.
  • Reptile Lover- Ever the eclectic, she’s owned four snakes over the past year. Right now she is down to one wild caught garter with a great temperament. Next up is a gecko.

Portrait of a Seventh Grader

portrait 2-1

Isaac is in the thick of middle school and is one of the sweetest middle school boys I’ve ever known- and as a former middle school science teacher, I’ve known many.

  • An Expert on Planes- If you ever need to know anything about flight, he’s your man.
  • Loves to Fly- His radio controlled airplane and he’s in hot pursuit of his own larger scale model. For now he flies two electric models- a yellow Champ and a WWII Spitfire.
  • Keeps Track of the Weather- Better than anyone because he is always on the look out for good flying weather.
  • Rocketeer- He loves model rockets too and is considering a career in rocket science. The real kind! He’s read front and back and over again several times The Handbook of Model Rocketry.
  • Still a Reader- He reads both fiction and nonfiction, but always has something going.
  • Boy Adventurer- But always the cautious kind. I never have to worry he will get into anything he should not. Adventure on!

Portrait of a Fourth Grader

portrait 5-1

Our youngest, Joshua, is now in 4th grade. Just one last student in elementary school! Wow. From the day he was born this boy has been busy. Let’s see how things are going for him.

  • Fiercely Independent- He wears this characteristic proudly. Probably too much so, but apples don’t fall far from the tree friends. I love to steer him in a direction that uses his skills for good!
  • Engineering- This still sums him up. He likes to take a look at something and see how it works and announce that he can do better. That is the definition of an engineer. There’s less talk of the triple threat- chemical, electrical, and mechanical engineering and more talk of computer engineering.
  • Loves the Periodic Table- Who among us does not? So, I’m holding out hope for a double threat- chemical and computer engineering! Either that or he’ll have a home lab like Tom Edison.
  • Entomologist- Still pinning away and having the best time at Friday night entomology lectures. You can see the results of his toil here.
  • Loves All Things Science- All of it.
  • Independent Learner- Bucking all the paths his siblings have chosen he presents a challenge daily. He could learn anything on his own. This is the most fun and the most vexing at the same time!
  • Computer Programming- He’s taught himself C++ and the basics of Java. He is making his own minecraft mods and loves to pour through programming manuals.

As I wrote this, I enjoyed looking back at last year’s portraits. Yes, our children are growing and being molded into the young adults God wants them to be, but they are staying true to their interests and refining them. Very exciting to watch and we are looking forward to a new homeschool year!

Other iHN bloggers are sharing their student portraits today. Have a look!


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