Developing Job Skills While Still in High School

In high school, students are expected to spend time on homework assignments, prepare for exams, participate in extracurricular activities, and help out with chores at home. While these responsibilities are important, teens can also develop job skills and work experience that will serve them for a lifetime.

Build Job Skills & Experience Through Volunteer Work

Volunteering is the perfect way to gain experience and develop the skills you will need in the work place when you are an adult. Volunteering is one of a kind work that you don’t need to be a certain age to do. Though some organizations will require that a parent or other adult accompany you – at least until they get to know you and your work ethic.art museum volunteer

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My daughter started volunteering at our local art museum when she was just 13. The best part about it was that she was able to set her own schedule and work as many hours as she wished. In the summer months, she worked 1-2 days each week depending on whether there was a special event. During the school year, she pulled back to once a month.Volunteering is generally regarded with as much respect as paid work. Employers consider it to be as valuable job experience because they know that volunteers have a range of duties and are highly motivated. Often, volunteer positions can also evolve into paid positions.

College admissions officers are also impressed by teens who volunteer. Donating your time shows you are a dedicated and compassionate person – a characteristic that will set you apart from other applicants.

Volunteering will provide you so much more than a good mark on your application, however. You will also learn so much, including:

  1. You’ll meet people of diverse ages and backgrounds.
  2. You may encounter a variety of viewpoints and perspectives.
  3. You’ll observe how people deal with adversity and conflict.
  4. Your own skills and abilities will be tested in a real-world setting.
  5. You’ll gain new skills and experience.
  6. You’ll have a new activity to talk about when meeting friends.

Build Job Skills Through an Apprenticeship or Internship

Apprenticeships and internships are similar. An apprenticeship is a paid position that involves working closely with a supervisor or master craftsman, who trains you to learn a skill or trade. It is a formal method of training for a skilled occupation.

mill apprenticeAt the end of an apprenticeship, you will be awarded a certificate of Occupational Proficiency (recognized by the Secretary of Labor) which articulates that you have participated in the program and corresponding classroom training and have thereby acquired a particular set of skills. Apprenticeships are available in a variety of fields, including:

  • cooking
  • blacksmithing and welding
  • graphic design
  • appliance repair
  • furniture repair and restoration

An internship is a temporary agreement with a profession person, company, or organization. In exchange for your time and labor, you get actual on-the-job experience, plus the guidance of a supervisor who can serve as a mentor. You may work a few weeks or a few months – depending upon the agreement.

While most internships are unpaid, there are some that offer stipends or pay (minimum wage or a few hundred dollars per month). While an internship does not necessarily need to be in the field of work you desire but it is certainly a plus. Internships are often available through government agencies – check the websites of the Forest Service, Fish & Wildlife, Watershed Associations, etc.

Share Your Job Skills in a Résumé

When you are ready to seek out a position – whether it is an internship or paid employment, you will want a résumé. Your résumé should serve as an at-a-glance summary of what you’ve accomplished so far. This is your time to brag about yourself and all you have done!

Begin by making a list of the extracurricular activities, passion projects, and work experiences in which you have taken part. Write down all of your responsibilities for each major activity and the skills you have learned – whether you learned them from your parents, a mentor, or in the classroom.

basic invite resume graphicDrafting a great résumé takes time. There are a multitude of templates available online. For youth, a single page résumé is sufficient as they don’t yet have the experience to warrant a second page. The key is to be concise and to use strong action words when describing the key contributions made. This video featuring Amanda Augustine is an excellent overview of how to put together a résumé that pops.

You may wish to consider Creating a Student Resume with Basic Invitethey also have a fabulous selection of stationery products and each template is fully customizable – both the text and the graphics.

For some teens, the traditional four-year high school curriculum is just what they need. Others would benefit more from nontraditional learning experiences—if they knew how to find them and what to do next. Regardless of what path you may consider, I highly suggest the book, The Teenager’s Guide to School Outside the Box.

This practical, inspiring book explores the world of alternative learning, giving teens the knowledge and tools they need to make good choices. It is about enhancing the education teens are already getting and making the most of their time in and out of school.

 

Finishing Strong #102 – Our Winner is Announced!

Last week was so much fun! I just love being part of this community – finding inspiration from one another as we each strive to do the best we can to homeschool our tweens and teens has always been the cornerstone of Finishing Strong. Last week – we were able to giveaway $100 cash to one lucky winner.

Martha S. ~ Congratulations on winning Finishing Strong’s 100th Edition Cash Giveaway.

Finishing-Strong-500x500Welcome to Finishing Strong ~ a weekly link-up dedicated to families homeschooling middle & high school kids. Each Wednesday, moms just like you share their best tips, encouragement, advice, and more for teaching older kids at home.

Finishing Strong is hosted by me here at EvaVarga along with my friends – Heather from Blog She Wrote, Megan and Susan from Education Possible, and Heidi from Starts at Eight.


Just prior to the spring primaries earlier this year, we enjoyed a A Visit to Our County Clerk’s Office. In Oregon, we utilize a mail-in ballot system. Our field trip was thereby very enlightening and the kids have both been able to explain this process in more depth in recent discussions with their grandparents.

elections

As our national election is just around the corner, I encourage you all to reach out to your county clerk. I understand that even during the voting cycle, they encourage citizens to observe the process.


Last week’s most popular post, What’s the Difference Between Unschooling and Radical Unschooling, was shared by RedHeadMom8 who blogs at There’s No Place Like Home. Every time I read about Unschooling, I think “That’s me!”

Unschooling and Radical Unschooling

Home education is not always about academics. There are many lifeskill that we strive to impart upon our children whether we choose to homeschool or utilize a brick and mortar school. I thereby really enjoyed Susan’s Teaching Kids Life Skills: How to Tie a Necktie at Education Possible this past week. It is a great reminder that even the little things are important.

How to Tie a NecktieAnother post I really enjoyed was Why Spending Time Growing in your Talents is Worth It by Belinda at Live Life with Your Kids. As she shares her philosophy for “productive free time” it reminds me a lot of what my family as coined “passion projects”. As she elaborates she also discusses “… developing these skills [talents] to be about how we can benefit others, not just self.” I love this and plan to incorporate this mindset into our passion projects in the coming weeks.

Time Talents

@ @ @

As always, thank you for helping us to make Finishing Strong a key resource for families who are homeschooling through the middle & high school years.

What are you going to share with us this week?

Guidelines:

  1. Link up to 3 posts from your blog. Make sure you use the exact URL to the post, not to your home page. You can add any post related to homeschooling middle and high school students. Posts unrelated to that will be removed.
  2. Please no advertising, individual Pinterest pins, Facebook, Twitter, or other link-up links!
  3. Grab our button to add to your post after you link it up. Each week we will be choosing our favorite posts to highlight on all 4 sites. If you were featured, we would love for you to use the “I was featured” button.
  4. The linky will go live on each co-host’s blog each Wednesday at 6am EST, and will be live until Tuesday at 11:55 pm.

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We’re Rolling in the Dough! Lefse Dough, That Is and It’s Delicious

When I recall the holiday gatherings when I was a little girl, I always remember a large platter of freshly baked lefse on the table. Grandma Margaret spent days in the kitchen preparing all the wonderful dishes we would enjoy on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Lefse has always been one of my favorites.

I sadly never had the opportunity to learn how to make lefse with my grandmother but as members of Sons of Norway, my children and I have learned this culinary tradition. We delight in spending an afternoon or two each year rolling out the lefse dough, enjoying a few warm samples throughout the day, and ultimately covering every surface of the kitchen in flour.

How to Make Lefse: Step by Step @EvaVarga.net

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Our lodge families recently gathered for their annual lefse baking day and while we were unable to join them in person as we now live several hours away, we joined in the festivities and baked a batch for ourselves.

We really got into the spirit of things and even sang along with Alexander Rybak, a Belarusian–Norwegian musician and actor. Her favorite album, pictured here, is Fairytales.

His music is upbeat and vibrant. I love that he plays the violin and has inspired Geneva to work harder at developing her skills as a violinist.

We had a lot of fun and developed a system that was efficient and quick. Follow along with me as I will walk you through the process of making lefse, step by step. I have included photographs and will soon be creating a video.

Lefse Tools & Materials

To make lefse, there are several tools you’ll need. You can purchase these in a starter kit like the one pictured at left or purchase items individually.

The items I feel are critically important are a corrugated rolling pin, turning stick, and pastry board and cloth.

Having the right tool for the job makes the work so much easier.

Optional items include the lefse griddle (you can use a pancake grill but it limits your size), potato ricer (helps eliminate lumps), rolling pin sock (helps prevent sticking).

Lefse Recipe & Instructions

Ingredients

1-10lb bag of Russet potatoes
2 sticks of butter
All-purpose flour
Makes approximately 54-60 depending on how thin you roll and the diameter of each

How to Make Lefse: Step by Step @EvaVarga.netHow to Prepare Potatoes for Lefse

For 10lbs. of potatoes – Peel, cut and boil in a large pot of water until done but not mushy. Drain well. Mash or rice until all lumps are gone. Add 2 sticks of butter, BUT NO MILK OR CREAM!  Cool and store in a loosely covered dish. I generally drape a clean dish towel over the bowl. Plastic-ware can sweat, adding unwanted moisture.

You’ll find that every lodge or family has their own version of this timeless recipe. Some add a little whipping cream to the dough. Play around and find what version you like best.

Add flour, one cup at a time, and blend by hand. Continue to add flour until the mixture “feels right”. You’ll develop a sense of this with more experience but essentially you want the mixture to be moist but dry enough to roll out without sticking to the pastry board or turning stick.

How to Make Lefse: Step by Step @EvaVarga.netHow to Roll the Lefse Dough

When the dough is ready, we like to portion it out into small balls (pictured above). Each ball is approximately 1/4 cup in quantity. I generally do this as Geneva begins to roll.

She sprinkles flour onto the pastry board surface and first flattens the ball with her hand. She then begins to roll the dough, turning it several times so it doesn’t stick. She aims for a diameter of 12″ or more. Presently, we do not have a lefse grill and are thus limited by the size of our pancake griddle. Not perfect but it works.

How to Make Lefse: Step by Step @EvaVarga.netHow to Cook Lefse

Cook each lefse on a flat grill (pictured below) until lightly golden brown. Flip with the turning stick and repeat. Lay upon a towel to cool.

Once the lefse are cool, depending on the diameter, you should be able to store 6 lefse in a gallon size zippy bag. They freeze well so don’t worry if you have extra. 

How to Make Lefse: Step by Step @EvaVarga.netHow to Serve Lefse

Everyone of course has their favorite ways to enjoy this Norwegian delicacy. We generally spread a little butter and then either sprinkle cinnamon sugar or lingonberry jelly and then roll. Delicious!

How to Build an Online Student Portfolio

A student portfolio has long been used in education to represent a student’s best work. Today, accordion folders are being replaced by digital or online portfolios – interactive, cloud-based catalogs of the student’s best work.

Today, the development of a digital portfolio is at the heart of many college and career readiness programs in high schools across the country. A student portfolio crafts a narrative of learning, growth, and achievement over time. An online student portfolio is a creative means of organizing, summarizing, and sharing artifacts, information, and ideas.

How to Build an Online Student Portfolio @EvaVarga.netAs the focus in the classroom continues to move toward performance-based assessment, building a student portfolio is not only a valuable reflection of who they are but it also serves as an important assessment tool for parents and educators. Additionally, portfolios provide a dynamic presentation for college entrance exams and future job interviews.

Online Student Portfolio Options

Following are six tools that homeschool and public classrooms are using to promote deeper learning by encouraging students to build a collection of personal bests. Choose the tool that suits you – keep in mind what type of work you desire to showcase as well as the age of the student. You’ll also want to consider your level of comfort with material that is publicly accessible.

Blogs & Websites

There are many free blogging and website platforms that provide templates and tools that make creating a website easy and fun. You may already be familiar with Blogger, Weebly, Wix, or WordPress.  Discussing the pros and cons between each of these is fodder for an entirely different post and one that doesn’t really fit my blogging niche. I’ll thereby leave that to the experts. Keep in mind, however, that these options do not give teachers (or parents) any way by which to moderate its use by students.

Evernote

Evernote does just about everything, it is like the Swiss Army knife of organization. As opposed to a blog or website, Evernote allows students to write, take photos, record audio, upload content with the ability to tag items, create notebooks for organization, and share content socially. It is very versatile as it offers a variety of apps that all work great together and can sync across multiple computers and mobile devices. Similar to a blog or website, however, Evernote doesn’t give teachers a way in which to moderate its use by students. Then again, unlike the alternatives, Evernote isn’t publicly viewable, either.

How to Build an Online Student Portfolio @EvaVarga.netGoogle

With Google Sites, students can create media-rich websites to display their work. By starting with a template and a site structure in place, students are able to integrate their work with other Google apps to create a comprehensive story of what they have learned. This obviously means that such apps as SlidesBlogger and YouTube integrate seamlessly.

As long as your students and you have Google Apps for Education accounts, you, as the teacher, have administrative control over who sees student sites and how they are used. Students can create work in Google Docs, save it in Drive, and create a showcase portfolio using Google Sites.  { Admin note: See comments to learn more }

Linkedin

Students 13 and over can use LinkedIn to create a professional presence online, showcasing their work, building out a network of people working in career areas of interest, and finding internships. LinkedIn is becoming a powerful tool to help students navigate their path from high school to college to career.

Pathbrite

With Pathbrite, building a portfolio has never been easier. Drag-and-drop your best images, videos, cloud documents, presentations, LinkedIn recommendations, badges, eTranscripts, web links, and even audio recordings into your portfolios. The platform also has options for educators to optimize student learning and assessment tools.

Seesaw

Empowering students as young as five to independently create and organize their work in a digital journal, Seesaw helps kids develop their academic voice, and collaborate with classmates.

Other Tips for Creating an Online Student Portfolio

Unlike the physical copies of student work that you may have tucked aways in a cardboard box, anything placed on a website such as Google Sites or Weebly will not necessarily be available in five or ten years. Website companies come and go over the years so there is no guarantee that students will have access to their portfolio content in the future.

When creating online portfolios, emphasize with students the long-term uncertainty regarding availability of their digital portfolios and the associated content. I recommend that all students keep their valuable content (graphics, video, audio, text, etc.) stored locally as files on their own computers (and backed up) just in case.

When picking an online portfolio, look for portfolios where the students remain the owners of the data compiled. It’s important that students have access to the content of the portfolio beyond the course or college education.

Lastly, parents, teachers, and students should start at a minimum level and build toward higher levels of implementation as they gain skills and comfort with the process. To learn more about creating digital student portfolios, visit ePortfolio Levels.

 

Finishing Strong #74

Wow! I am in awe of all the wonderful posts that were shared in last week’s Finishing Strong link-up. It was so difficult to narrow my choices down to just three to highlight.

I am delighted that families homeschooling middle and high school age students are coming together and finding inspiration in one another. That’s has been the goal of Finishing Strong since its inception. Thank you!!

Finishing Strong #74 @EvaVarga.net

Each Wednesday, moms just like you share their best tips, encouragement, advice, and more for teaching older kids at home. Finishing Strong is hosted by me here at EvaVarga along with my friends – Heather from Blog She Wrote, Megan and Susan from Education Possible, and Heidi from Starts at Eight.

Finishing Strong Favorites

Each week, the post shared that received the most clicks is featured on all four host blogs. Here’s the most popular post from last week:

What I Wish Someone Had Told Me

What I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Homeschooling High School by Heidi at Starts at Eight

When choosing posts to highlight, I look for posts that are inspiring to me as a homeschool mom with two kids in middle school. I just love that so many of the posts this past week focused on science. As you know, science is my favorite subject. Even so, it is one of the subjects that gets pushed aside in our homeschool when life gets busy.

Here are three posts I enjoyed reading last week. I’ve annotated each to give you a peak into what I liked about each of the three I selected.

What I Wish Someone Had Told Me

I found it humorous that Claire at Angelicscalliwags warns us that her post, Human Biology: Reproduction, may be considered revolting. I encountered the same reactions from my students when we were engaged in our study of human anatomy. Due to time constraints, however, we didn’t cover the reproductive system. It is for this reason that I chose to highlight Claire’s post. I love the hands-on approach!

What I Wish Someone Had Told Me

Another favorite post this week is from Marci at The Homeschool Scientist who shares with us the steps to Make An Electroscope to Experiment with Electrical Charges. How can we tell if an object contains electrically charged atoms? Read on to learn how to create a testing device with simple materials you have at home.

What I Wish Someone Had Told Me

Adult skills as we refer to them in our home have always been a fun component of our homeschool. Kris, who blogs at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers, shares a wonderful list of 10 Home Ec Skills Your Kids Need to Know. As she says, “There are many things on this list that I have neglected  and need to focus on during my kids’ last few years at home.”

Thank you for helping us to make Finishing Strong a key resource for families who are homeschooling through the middle & high school years.

What are you going to share with us this week?

Guidelines:

  1. Link up to 3 posts from your blog. Make sure you use the exact URL to the post, not to your home page. You can add any post related to homeschooling middle and high school students. Posts unrelated to that will be removed.
  2. Please no advertising, individual Pinterest pins, Facebook, Twitter, or other link-up links!
  3. Grab our button to add to your post after you link it up. Each week we will be choosing our favorite posts to highlight on all 4 sites. If you were featured, we would love for you to use the “I was featured” button.
  4. The linky will go live on each co-host’s blog each Wednesday at 6am EST, and will be live until Tuesday at 11:55 pm.

Please Share!

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Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years

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Bloggers, by linking up, you may be featured on our co-hosts’ social media pages or our Pinterest board. We may even select you to be featured in a future post!


Teaching Our Teens About Money – Part 2: Developing Entrepreneurs

My parents were in many ways great role models. In addition to hard work, my parents instilled within me the drive to seek out creative ways to earn money.

You might also be interested in my earlier posts, Lessons Learned from My Mother & Lessons Learned from My Father

When I was a little girl, my two younger brothers and I would periodically set up a lemonade and craft booth in front of our house. We lived in a small coastal community and our home was on a main street through town. The majority of our customers were tourists and I remember fondly, when one group of young cyclists offered to pay us with Canadian money – we were overjoyed! Their money was so different from our own!

We never made a lot of money but it was a fun way to pass the leisurely hours of the summer. The money we did earn we split evenly between the three of us and generally spent it on candy at Wilson’s Market up the hill.

Last week I spoke about how teens can earn commissions doing work around the house. Today, I wanted to share with you ideas for developing entrepreneurs.

Creative Entrepreneurs

Being a young entrepreneur doesn’t mean you have to think of a new idea to make money. It just means you need to find a way to make money doing something you love. You have to think out of the box a little.

You’re never too young to develop your talents and, in turn, make money from your skills. ~ Dave Ramsey

Teaching Our Kids About Money (free printable) @EvaVarga.net

Jeffrey is shown here constructing several Mason Bee Nesting Boxes. He was very successful at the Earth Day festival, selling his entire inventory.

At a local Earth Day fair earlier this year, the kids set up a booth to share with the community the efforts we had undertaken as part of our Roots & Shoots club. In addition to showcasing the projects we had undertaken (primarily our Bottle Cap Mural still underway), each of the kids developed a product that demonstrated their knowledge of and passion for the environment.

The previous year, our club had created Insect Hotels. Jeffrey shared that he had really enjoyed this project and wanted to make a difference for pollinators like the Mason Bee. He thereby reached out to his papa one weekend when we were visiting to procure the wood he would need to make a half dozen nesting boxes. He brought the cut pieces home and began to construct the boxes. He sanded down the rough edges, nailed the pieces together, and finally filled the interior space with nesting material.

Geneva had borrowed a book from the library some time ago, Terrarium Craft, and was intrigued with both the simplicity and beauty. When we began to plan our booth space for the Earth Day fair, she expressed interest in creating terrariums similar to those she had enjoyed in the book. She thereafter ordered a variety of air plants and a half dozen glass terrariums from wholesale vendors online.

Teaching Our Kids About Money: Developing Entrepreneurs @EvaVarga.net

As an extension of our nature studies, Geneva created several beautiful glass terrariums and was also very successful selling these at the Earth Day festival.

There are thousands of ways to make money doing something you love. As we listened to the book Smart Money Smart Kids by Dave Ramsey and his daughter Rachel Cruze in August, we spent time brainstorming more ideas for each of our kids – ideas that they were both capable of doing and that were of interest to them. Here’s just a few of the services and products that they came up with:

  • Babysitting
  • Pet Care
  • Insect Hotels
  • Terrariums
  • Yard Maintenance
  • Auto Detailing
  • Play Piano at a Dinner Party
  • Baked Goods (cupcakes, cookies, etc.)
  • Wild Organic Herbs
  • Create an iPhone App
  • Upcycle

Many of their ideas require very little startup costs. I am particularly impressed with their creativity. Regardless of what avenue they choose, I encouraged them to use a notebook to keep track of their progress.

After listening to Smart Money Smart Kids and our family brainstorm in early August, Geneva has grabbed onto an idea and has shown remarkable resolve. She won’t allow me to reveal what she is working on but I can share a few of the steps she has taken in pursuit of her new passion.

She set up a binder to keep track of everything including the name and the graphics she has created for her business, a list of products she plans to offer, market research she has done (comparable prices, etc.), materials needed, and of course, expenses.

As part of her market research, she created a survey using Google Docs and spent a morning at a local farmer’s market to poll the community. While she wasn’t able to use an electronic device as planned (no wifi), she sat down later and entered all their responses by hand into the document to create a spreadsheet of her results. As an introvert, I was very impressed that she followed through. I can’t wait to see how far she takes her project!