Thursday, January 23, 2014

Homeschool Essentials for Graduating - Skills for the Real World

Homeschool Essentials for Graduating - Skills for the Real World on Homeschool Coffee Break @

Having a great transcript might smooth the way into college, but neither the high school transcript nor the college education are a guarantee for a good job and success in the real world. Being able to cook and keep house are essential real world skills, but today I'm focusing on the kinds of skills we need to get and keep a job, and to contribute meaningfully in our communities. In this area, homeschooling can offer some great opportunities for training, but we do need to give some thought to including it!

Last year, I had the opportunity to co-teach a small group of middle school age kids about personal finances and basic economics. We focused a couple of the classes on showing these kids how to put together a resume, how to handle a job interview, and how to be a good employee. When we got feedback from some of the moms of those kids, a couple of them expressed the wish that their older teens could have a class like that. While I don't know that I'd be the best person to teach the class, I do think that it's important for teens to get some instruction and pointers on those sorts of things before they go out to hunt for their first job.

 Teens should know how to build their resume, and have it critiqued - preferably by a family friend who is familiar with hiring in their business. Most teens can list some applicable skills and experience on a resume, even when applying for their first job! Skills they learn while helping with the family business or farm, or while doing volunteer work can translate into skills that will be helpful at a job. For example, my boys (and now my daughter too) have been running the time clock and doing scorekeeping for the hockey league my husband runs with some of his buddies. They do get paid for sitting in the timekeeper's box in an unheated hockey rink for a couple hours every week, but it's not a "payroll job". Still, they can list that as experience on a job application or resume, and it provides them with someone to use as a reference that has dealt with them in the equivalent of an employer-employee situation. (They list one of the other league commissioners as their reference, not their dad!) When applying for a first job, one of my sons used this experience on his application, and also had to call the hockey guy and make sure it would be okay to give his name and contact information as a reference. (I found out that a lot of young people don't realize that they should ASK the person they'd like to give as a reference if that's okay!) Landon will also be able to translate much of what he is learning through Civil Air Patrol into valuable job skills.

I think almost every teen would benefit greatly from knowing what to expect at a job interview. Having a mock interview and knowing what kinds of questions will likely be asked and how best to answer them will help them feel prepared and less nervous. Do they know how to dress appropriately for an interview? Do they know how to address the interviewer, how to truthfully and respectfully answer questions, and what questions they should ask about the job? Do they know how to give a firm handshake? Let's not assume they know!

Once they've landed the job, they should be prepared to prioritize their job appropriately (by being on time and ready for work, etc), how to handle any conflicts or problems that may arise responsibly (calling in sick, handling difficult work situations, scheduling conflicts, etc), and how to make themselves a valuable employee. Being an asset to the employer includes skills like taking initiative, working hard and working smart, and not wasting time at work.

Starting their own micro-business is a great idea too, and homeschooled teens are in an excellent position to try it, because their school hours are generally very flexible, and their coursework and business idea might be combined. I've got my eye on this: Micro Business for Teens and I think it will be something Landon might be interested in.

By the way, we found the Money Matters for Teens Workbook to be an excellent resource for that middle school class, and it would be even better for the 15-18year olds that it is specifically targeting.
Money Matters for Teens - Larry Burkett
Interpersonal skills are another essential ingredient for success in the real world, and those aren't usually covered by a textbook either. For most families, homeschooling offers kids lots of opportunities to interact with all kinds of people in all kinds of situations - this is because we tend to take our kids with us as we live our lives. Don't stop taking your kids along just because they're old enough to stay home! You'll probably be more selective about taking them along everywhere, and having the freedom to run errands or go to your appointments without having to drag them along is a fantastic thing. But consider taking your teen along to help teach younger kids at your co-op, or to work alongside you or others doing service projects, or to divide and conquer errands (cut the time at the grocery store in half by giving them half the list while you take the other and meet at the checkout, for example). I've observed that homeschooled kids are worlds better at including everyone - for example, I've seen high schoolers devise a way to split a whole playground of kids into even teams and play a version of basketball that includes and encourages kindergartners through young adults to participate and everyone will have fun - and at being generally comfortable talking with people that are different from themselves. Give your teens those opportunities, and guide and encourage them.
Some people believe that homeschoolers are all socially awkward and don't know how to behave "in the real world."  But the truth is, homeschooled kids are much more likely to be exposed to the real world in context, and I really can't think of any homeschooled kids I know that are genuine social misfits.  They all have friends, and their friends are likely to be of varied ages and interests too.  They know how to relate to all kinds of people and can have intelligent conversations.  They are respectful and responsible and diligent.  I suppose that might make them "different" from their peers in some cases, but in a good way, if you ask me.  If these kids don't dress like, or act like, everyone else, I'm not sure that's a bad thing.  I find it funny that a society that claims to value individuality is quick to point a finger at someone who doesn't always run with the crowd or follow the latest fad.
That's part of a post I wrote a couple years ago. You can read all of it here: X is for eXpectations.
Another related post from my archives: Measuring Success

Related articles that I recommend:
The Purpose of High School at "Live Life with Your Kids" highlights the preparation for adult life that should be part of homeschooling through high school - things like relationship skills, self-management, the ability to keep on learning, and participating in the community.
How to Make Yourself Indispensable: Advice for Young People at The American Vision lists some great ideas encouraging people to continue to learn and challenge their minds in ways that will make them more successful and well-rounded.

5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials
Other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew are writing about Homeschooling Essentials this week as well. Visit the Crew Blog for links to all 89 participating blogs and see what they consider essential for homeschooling. Don't have time to visit all of them? Try this sampling from the entire group - you'll still get a variety of ideas on what's essential, and there's something here for everyone, whether you're a homeschooling veteran or just thinking about getting started.

Wendy @ Simplicity Breeds Happiness writes today about the daily schedule and planning system that is working for their family.
Jodi @ Insane in the Mombrain
Lynn @ Ladybug Chronicles
Jennifer @ Chestnut Grove Academy
Jenn @ Teaching Two Stinkers
Brandi @ Brandi Raae
Lisa @ A Rup Life, Jordyn @ Almost Supermomand Crystal @ Crystal Starr Blog are all co-sponsors of an iPad Mini Giveaway as part of the 5 Days series, so be sure to visit their blogs and enter.

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Jenn@Teaching Two Stinkers said...

I LOVE this ~ especially the mock interviews and interpersonal skills! I have to admit the interpersonal skills is something that I worry about as my kids get older, probably because of all the stereotypical comments. Great post!

Lynn said...

we love Larry Burkett's financial books. The adult book w/ cd helped my husband and I get back on track with our finances and become debt free outside our mortgage. What a great thing to teach our young adults about being responsible with money.. :)

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