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?

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailby feather

Engaging Multiple Ages in Your Homeschool

Blog, She Wrote: Engaging Multiple Ages in Your Homeschool
This post may contain affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

When we think of working with multi-ages, many of us think of the unit study type arrangement where we work with the kids all together at different levels. Certainly, when all of our children were younger (though still multi-aged, of course), the unit study approach was the foundation of our homeschool. There comes a time when that approach doesn’t work easily anymore. At a certain point, what my older kids wanted to drive and learn became more important than my desire and convenience to keep everyone together. So, we have looked for other ways to come together as a family with our homeschooling.

Today’s post- Engaging Multiple Ages in Your Homeschool.

Blog, She Wrote: Engaging Multiple Ages in Your HomeschoolUsing Collaboration to Bring Together Multi-Ages in Your Homeschool

Collaboration includes any activity where our students share ideas and receive feedback. I enjoy seeing my kids collaborate with their siblings to solve problems, gather input, and share accomplishments. Here are a few examples:

  • My 11th grader might get feedback on his latest novel character from his siblings.
  • An older sibling agrees to film a tutorial my 4th grader wanted to try making on making paper boxes.
  • Our high school junior mentors our FLL team which includes his two younger brothers. He helped the 4th grader reach out to experts in a particular field last week by coaching him on phone etiquette and helping him to form interview questions. He was ready as a scribe while our 9yo made the phone call and could concentrate on the talking while Ethan would get the notes down.
  • Our high school freshman will often give sewing tips and the use of her machine to a sibling who wants to make a costume- most recently a Union sash for a Civil War uniform.
  • Our kids are great at lending a listening ear to a piece of writing.
  • Any of the kids are eager to jump up to our slate chalkboard and have a go at an explanation– the receiver is always appreciative.

I love to watch our kids work together to help make each other perform better. It isn’t always in the form of the older kids teaching the younger ones. It goes much deeper than that! They offer feedback to help each other reach a goal in simple and not so simple ways.

Collaboration brings out some of our kids’ best qualities. Or the worst! It takes time to build the sort of homeschool relationships that foster this behavior. Sometimes you have to work with the stronger personalities to help them as they work through it. But, when you get collaboration in your homeschool right, it is GOLD and worth every moment to get there. It’s authentic and builds this life skill in a very real way.

Blog, She Wrote: Engaging Multiple Ages in Your HomeschoolUsing Project Time to Team up Multiple Ages

No homeschool day is complete at our house without project time. Each of our students has a Project Workspace where they can leave out their work and spend a lot of time working and researching. Project time doesn’t always mean being completely independent. Sometimes our kids will choose to draw on each other to complete a task. Project time might include things like:

  • Following a tutorial
  • Learning a new computer programming language by reading and testing it
  • Designing a new model rocket or custom mini-fig
  • Pinning a new insect
  • Drafting a fashion design
  • Reading & Researching on a topic
  • Building a machine like a catapult
  • Testing a hypothesis
  • Writing to add to stories and novels
  • Attending seminars and workshops related to an area of study
  • Collaborating with each other on progress of their work

All of these are born out of their interest in a topic & represent the amount of time we’ve poured into these interests. Much of our homeschool day is wrapped up in project time. Not only is this the time when I get to be a mentor and consultant and listen and encourage their efforts, but it’s a time for our kids to team up to solve a problem.

Blog, She Wrote: Engaging Multiple Ages in Your HomeschoolTaking Field Trips as a Family Engages Multi-Ages Together

My rule of thumb when it comes to field trips is to arrange them and take them as a family. Unless we don’t have the opportunity to do so otherwise, I avoid taking field trips with a group. What are the advantages of striking out on your own?

  • Arrange a trip when it is most convenient to your family and with what you’re studying.
  • Taking spontaneous field trips means enjoying the best weather!
  • Smaller groups get more attention from curators and garner the most available to you from a venue.
  • Many places will accommodate my family without having to be part of a group– I once called about a local public event and when I could not make it, I was invited to see the exhibit on off hours and the curator happily pulled out artifacts we’d see at the public time- and more of them! It was a golden opportunity!
  • My students pay attention to the venue when they aren’t excited to be with their peers. It’s true. I often tell my kids that they can enjoy a playdate another time when it’s fun to play and you aren’t just sneaking it in while you are supposed to be paying attention to something else. For field trips to yield the most, go alone and make a playdate for another time!
  • Allows me to help my kids focus on what we came to see through the lens of our personal studies without the distractions of their peers!

Blog, She Wrote: Engaging Multiple Ages in Your HomeschoolLearning Together During Our Homeschool Day

Of course, being a unit study family for many years and still today, we love to learn together with all ages. We come together on a few things whenever we can:

  • Fred Math– With all of our students immersed in Fred’s world, there is always something to discuss about Fred at the dinner table. We can engage about Fred any time, but often he comes up at dinner where our kids share what they’ve been working on.
  • Geography– We are using NorthStar Geography this year and while our two high schoolers will earn a credit, our younger boys will join in when they can.
  • Read Aloud Time– We love to hear stories together. Often times I have my teens read to us and my 11th grader loves to read to me! Reading aloud is a great way to begin your homeschool day and to get started and focused again after lunch. The benefits of building this time into your schedule are numerous.
  • Earth Science– This year we’ll be tackling earth science as a family. The younger boys (4th & 7th grades) will be studying earth science with their Adventures in the Sea & Sky curriculum while the high schoolers will be following the course set by CK12 Earth Science for High School. You might like to read more about our curriculum choices for 2014-2015 if you missed it in August.
  • Current Events– We often discuss what’s happening in the world around our dinner table or whenever it comes up as our day moves along.

Blog, She Wrote: How to Use Current Events in Your HomeschoolIf you’d like to see more about how we implement our homeschool day, click in to How to Implement an Independent & Authentic Learning Homeschool Day.

Bright Ideas G+ Hangout on Homeschooling Multi-Ages at Once

Join us today, October 14, 2014 at 3pm EDT for a Bright Ideas Press Hangout on Homeschooling Multi-Ages at Once. You watch it live here or you can return later to watch it at a better time.

All of these tips & techniques come together to make our typical homeschool day. You’ll find many of our moments working together in Ten Things That Make a Great Homschool Day.

Blog, She Wrote: Ten Things That Make a Great Homeschool Day

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailby feather

Summer Reading Challenge without The Carrot & Stick

Blog, She Wrote: Summer Reading Challenge without The Carrot & Stick

This post may contain affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

It’s summer time once again and homeschooling parents everywhere are thinking about how to keep the academics fresh in their students’ minds and how to keep kids reading throughout the summer. Summer reading programs abound whether it’s the library, the bookstore, or even the local pizza shop. Everyone wants to add up the books read and hand out the rewards. 

What are the summer reading plans for your homeschool this year? What if we shatter the paradigm on summer reading and require it without the baiting? How would that look?

Don’t Be Afraid to Assign Reading

Parents worry a lot about assigning reading to their kids. We want our kids to love to read and we believe that if we make our kids read, they can’t possibly learn to love it. However, there is evidence to suggest that required reading is pretty important.

  • The Read Aloud Handbook– Jim Trelease in his book about how reading aloud affects children as readers, specifically tells us not to be afraid to require reading from our kids. After all, practice makes a better reader no matter who we are or how well we read. Ben Carson is a classic example of this. The story goes that his mother, who only had a 3rd grade education, turned off the TV on Ben and his brother and required them to read and write about what they read. The rest, as they say, is history.
  • Getting the Most out of Your Homeschool Summer– This book talks about taking a break for the summer and making sure you take a break even if you school year round, but the author also recommends using the summer for purposeful reading for your students. Many resources, including this one, mention the book lists for college bound students. This is a great time to check some of them off and add them to the finished list.
  • Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations– Written by Alex & Brett Harris, this book is all about showing teens they have a lot to offer and how they can break through the stereotypes of the typical teenager today. When they were 16 and and their debating days were coming to a close, their father put the boys on an intense reading program for the summer. The stack of huge books included titles on varying topics such as history, philosophy, theology, sociology, science, business, journalism, and globalization. They read a lot of the time that summer and the more they read, the more excited they became of the ideas they were learning about. Wanting to do something about these ideas, eventually led to their website- The Rebelution.

The point is just because our kids may not choose to read, that doesn’t mean we should shy away from assigning it. I’ve seen many students get excited about a topic or a book when they’ve been told to read it. If our kids, especially the ones not inclined to read on their own, are never stretched to new places in books, their experience will become limited and they will miss out.

The more limited our language is, the more limited we are; the more limited the literature we give to our children, the more limited their capacity to respond, and therefore, in their turn, to create. The more our vocabulary is controlled, the less we will be able to think for ourselves. We do think in words, and the fewer words we know, the more restricted our thoughts. As our vocabulary expands, so does our power to think. – Madeline L’Engle

Blog She Wrote: Summer Reading Challenge without The Carrot & Stick

Avoid the Carrot & Stick Approach to Summer Reading

That’s not to say you have to forgo any sort of summer reading fun, but connecting book reading directly with a reward seems counter intuitive. If you have more than one child, it gets cumbersome to keep track of and it feels a lot like coercion. Here are some other tried and true ideas for encouraging reading:

  • Enjoy reading books together– Change things up so kids aren’t always reading alone. When my readers were at the emergent stage, I often would read with them. They would read a portion and I would read some and we’d take turns. This way reading isn’t always a solitary activity.
  • Have book discussions– Engage with your kids about the books they are reading. Let them know you’ll talk about the chapter they’ve read for the day and ask them what they think. It’s easy to get simple answers, but try to draw the story out of your child and offer some insight as you go. This is a great way to check up on how your kids are understanding what they read and it’s done in an authentic conversational sort of way.
  • Form a summer book club– We’ve had a girl’s book club going all year and their June selection is Frankenstein. Book clubs let kids come together to talk about a book and they are more willing to read titles outside of their usual experience. Forming a summer book club is a fun way to encourage kids to read. Of course, there are plenty of activities that go with book club gatherings so prepare to insert some fun!

Blog, She Wrote: Summer Reading Challenge without The Carrot & Stick

Summer Reading Resources & Ideas

There is no shortage of summer reading ideas. Here are a few for inspiration:

  • Ultimate Guide to Establishing a Reading Culture in Your Home– This ultimate post has so many ideas for building a reading environment in your home- from babies to high schoolers. Don’t miss this resource. You’ll find resources for any time of year including the summer.
  • Book Wagon– I really enjoyed this creative idea from another blogger. Fill a wagon with favorite titles and new ones and take your books on the road to a picnic or in the yard under a favorite tree.
  • Set up Your Home Library– Make sure your home library is engaging for your kids. Rotate titles, get new titles and make use of eReaders!
  • Give eReader Surprises– Make ample use of your Kindle and surprise the kids now and then with a new title. You can check your library for titles or keep an eye out for Kindle deals. I have a Pinterest board on eReader Homeschooling which has a lot of ebook resources all in one spot.
  • Five Reasons to Use an eReader Kindle– I have found our Kindles to be invaluable in our homeschool. If you haven’t given one serious though, here are some compelling reasons. I find myself using the library less and grabbing an ebook in 10 seconds which costs less than the price of gas to get to the library!
  • Five Reasons to Use a Tablet Kindle– This little affordable tablet is a great tool for listening to audio books, watching video, and reading text clearly. I didn’t imagine how useful this tool would be for our homeschool.

Blog, She Wrote: Summer Reading Challenge without The Carrot & Stick

Summer Reading Challenges

If you are going to set a reading challenge before your kids this summer, consider bringing them to the table to have input on their challenge. If you know that will not be productive or you have something in mind (like Mr. Harris), then forge ahead and put together a reading list for your children. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:

  • Set a Number– Simply set a number of books they must read. However, you will want to add some parameters such as “new books” or ” a particular genre”. Assign four books for the month but they must be new titles. Be creative about how to set a number and see it through. Take the challenge with your kids!
  • Classics– Assign a certain number of classic titles. If your kids haven’t read much in the classic arena, then the sky is the limit on choices. You can suggest tales of intrigue and adventure or any other type of story your student might like. So many of these are great stories which are rarely read because they intimidate. Shake the reputation and select a few this summer.
  • Set a Time for Reading– Rather than focusing on the number of books tackled, focus on the amount of time you read daily. That will take care of numbers in the end most likely if you are consistent. If your kids aren’t inclined to read on their own, you can read at the same time. What better way to get your extra reading in during the summer. Once the habit is set and you feel your kids are enjoying the time, you can relax and let them choose a time. However, my boys love to read and it is still a great practice to set a time. Otherwise, they may always find other things to do!
  • Set Your Own Summer Reading Goal– And join your kids in the reading challenge. I know I always have books I want to read and re-read during the summer. What better way to meet your own goal than to join your kids in meeting theirs? Research shows that seeing parents read has a positive effect on children’s reading. Let them see you making reading a priority this summer!

I have grown so weary of the trinket based programs that try and encourage reading. Require your kids to read. Just like you require them to eat their vegetables. Don’t worry about your kids being turned off to reading because you require it. We don’t have to love to read. We just have to do it.

Be real with them and enjoy discussions based on the books they are reading. Gather kids together and make books engaging for the sake of the story. But stop with the prizes. They don’t make readers.

So, let’s join the challenge together. Make reading a part of your summer without meticulously counting books and making it a race. Simply set some goals– either together or on your own and make it happen.

Happy Reading!

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmailby feather