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.

 

A Dozen or So Ideas for Family Time

When asked, children say the number one thing they want most from their parents is time. Parents don’t have to spend a lot of money to spend quality time with their children; any time spent together sharing an activity is considered quality time.

Children grow and change quickly, so family time is a wonderful time to get to know your child better. It builds strong family ties and creates lifelong memories. Family time also creates an environment that builds self-esteem and character in children.

family timeIdeas for Family Time

Here are a dozen things families with teens and preteens can do together as a family.

1. Eat Meals Together

Eating our meals together, especially our evening meal, had been a big part of my childhood. I always knew this was a tradition I wanted to continue when I had children of my own. Times have changed, however, and coming together for dinner is more difficult than it was in the 70s and 80s.

Parents are working longer hours. Kids are involved in more extracurricular activities – sports, school clubs, etc. We’ve thereby made family meals a priority. Though some nights we have to juggle, the majority of our evening meals are enjoyed with each of us seated at the dining room table.

2. Cook Meals Together

This is an endeavor we have only recently begun, but it certainly more fun to prepare a meal with one another than to do all the work oneself. The way our kitchen is laid out, only two people can be actively cooking or preparing a dish. There just isn’t space for more. When Patrick and I are cooking, the kids like to sit at the island and engage us in conversation. It helps to extend our family meal time.

3. Go for an Evening Walk

After we’ve cleaned up our meal and taken care of any pressing tasks demanding our attention, we often enjoy a short walk around the neighborhood. These strolls provide us a chance to catch up and focus on one another without distractions. Sometimes it’s just hubby and I – a great time to assure we are on the same page. Other times, it’s the four of us.

4. Take on a Challenge

Going for walks together is something we have always enjoyed. Shortly into the new year, we challenged ourselves to hike 52 different trails together as a family. We started the year strong, visiting new trail heads in parts of the state we had not previously explored.

One of the stipulations we made for ourselves is that all four of us needed to be there. In other words, Patrick and I can not count the hikes we did during our romantic weekend away to celebrate our anniversary. The kids can not count the hikes they do at summer camp. Illnesses, schedule conflicts, and other obligations have thereby set us back for a couple months.

5. Play a Board Game

It’s well-known that kids need plenty of exercise, but it can be hard to pry them off the couch and away from their electronic devices. One way to get them moving is to engage the whole family in games that are simple and fun. There are many spectacular games available today. Some of our favorites include: Carcassonne, Takenoko, Timeline, & Tokaido. Host a family board game night, invite your friends, and find new favorites. You’ll be glad you did.

classes6. Take a Class

My daughter and I have taken several classes together ranging from seaweed art and foraging for mushrooms. Each class has provided us with opportunities to bond with one another and share our passions.

I have long desired to take a dance class as a family but thus far, we haven’t been able to work this experience into our schedule. I haven’t given up, however, and will continue to hope. Other ideas include cooking classes, martial arts, swimming, creative writing, guitar lessons – wherever your heart leads.

7. Go Camping

In years past, we went camping on an annual basis to our favorite county park. As the kids have gotten older, they have expressed an interest in going more often. I love this for many reasons but namely because it enables us to squeeze in more hikes and detox from screen time. This year, we have camped twice already and three more weekends are planned.

We keep it simple – we tent camp and have agreed that an RV just isn’t necessary. We plan easy meals and cook over the open fire. Bring along a fun outdoor game like Bocce ball or Kübb (a Viking lawn game) and Let the Fun Begin.

8. Take a Road Trip

As a family, one of the things we most enjoy is traveling. In the past few years, we have been blessed to have the time and financial means to travel abroad regularly. As our financial circumstances have changed, we know we won’t travel as often or as far in the near future, but travel is something we have agreed is very important to us and we thereby make sacrifices in other areas to assure we can continue to explore our world.

While not everyone may desire to travel abroad, road trips are a fabulous experience; providing opportunities to connect with one another and to learn more about our nation’s history and natural areas.

9. Enjoy a Book

Whether we are going about our errands around town or enjoying a road trip across state borders, we always have an audio book in our car. This is a great way to squeeze in genres and classical literature that your children may not otherwise choose for themselves. I love the conversations that we have as a result of experiencing a great book together.

volunteer10. Volunteering

There are many volunteer opportunities for kids. When we first moved back to Oregon, Geneva expressed interest in volunteering at the art museum. As she is not yet 16, I am required to go with her. It has been a great experience for us both – exposing us to artists and mediums previously unfamiliar to us. It has also given me the opportunity to observe her professionally.

Likewise, both children and I volunteer together in a variety of capacities at the estuarine research reserve and marine learning center, providing us with experience doing real science (fish seines and annual counts, biomonitoring field work), education outreach, and interpretation. We have also enjoyed volunteering while on vacation.

11. See a Concert or Go to the Theatre

As a classically-minded homeschool family, we try to see a play at least once a year and hope to eventually see Shakespeare’s entire canon. We also try to see live concert events whenever possible. This is especially important to us as both kids are young musicians. While Geneva plays for self interest, Jeffrey has expressed a desire to possibly pursue it as a career. We are most looking forward to seeing The Piano Guys perform again next month.

12. Engage in a Friendly Competition

Whether you consider yourself an athlete or not, there are a wide range of entertaining “runs”. I am sure you’ve heard about them in social media: bubble runs, color runs, mud runs, etc. are all the rage. There is nothing competitive about them other than seeing who has the most color on them after the race! There’s no timing, no timing clock and no placement awards. Just a great excuse to come out and have fun with your friends, family and kids while doing something healthy!

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What do you do together as a family? Leave a comment below and share your favorite activities.

Join the other iHomeschool Network bloggers to learn How We Spend Family Time.

FamilyNight

Global Youth Service Day: What Will You Do?

Volunteering is an opportunity to change lives, including your own.  It is generally considered an altruistic activity and is intended to promote goodness or improve human quality of life. In return, volunteering can produce a feeling of self-worth and respect. There are many volunteer opportunities for kids of all ages – playing with kittens at the local humane society, serving meals at the local rescue mission, or picking up trash in a neighborhood park.youthserviceday

Research has shown that students who participated in service-learning were found to have scored higher than non-participating students in several studies, particularly in social studies and language arts. They were found to be more cognitively engaged and more motivated to learn. Service-learning has also been shown to increase achievement among alternative school students and other students considered at risk of school failure.

Service learning has always been a major part of our homeschool journey. Today, I share a variety of ways in which you can encourage your teens and pre-teens to get involved.

Global Youth Service Day

The 2016 Global Youth Service Day is April 15-17. Many youth organizations hold events in conjunction with Global Youth Service Day, so the month of April is full of service and awareness opportunities that you can celebrate as part of Global Youth Service Day. Choose a cause and an idea from the list of ideas below or come up with your own. Your project can count towards as many of these events as you want.
Earth Day

Service to the Environment

2016 marks the 12th annual National Environmental Education Week (EE Week) which will be celebrated April 17-23, 2016. EE Week events and projects will be taking place across the country in classrooms, after-school clubs, parks, aquariums, museums, and more. Families and educators of all kinds, teaching any age, are encouraged to take part in the nationwide celebration.

It’s Our Turn to Lead: Earth Day ~ Earth Day celebrations bring to light the fact that this planet’s resources are finite and will not last forever. Earth Day is April 22 this year, learn more today.

Plant a school vegetable or pollinator garden. Designating a small patch of the yard for some native flowering plants is a great way to attract pollinating insects to your home or school.

Celebrate Arbor Day All Year with These 12 Activities ~ The Arbor Day Foundation inspires people to plant, nurture, and celebrate trees.

Create a Bottle Cap Mural ~ A long term project that promotes recycling and provides an opportunity to give back to the community.

Don't ReleaseDon’t Let it Loose ~ Educate your community about the dangers of invasive species, for example, Saving the Native Pond Turtle.

Annual Ladybug Hunt ~ A citizen science project asking people of all ages to collect data on ladybugs in their local area.

Contact a local recycling center to see if someone can give a guest presentation about how different materials are recycled and the processes that take place at the facility.

Take part in the World Water Monitoring Challenge ~ In this citizen science project, students learn more about the watersheds in which they live, how watersheds work, and how protecting their waters can have beneficial impacts.

You can also find a variety of teaching materials and educator toolkits on the National Environmental Education Foundation website.

Service to Our Communities

He Had a Dream: The Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King ~ Each year, people across the country come together to honor Dr. Martin Luther King’s life and legacy by serving their communities.

Is there a cause dear to your heart? Think of a project or fundraising campaign to help teach others. In our home, we join the Nystagmus Network on Wobbly Wednesday to raise awareness and research funds for Nystagmus.

Habitat For Humanity Act! Speak! Build! Week ~ Building alone cannot provide shelter for the 1.6 billion people who currently live in poverty housing. Act! Speak! Build! Week serves to educate others by expanding the scope of Habitat’s mission from raising a hammer and raising funds to include raising your voice.

servicelearningService Learning Through Roots & Shoots ~ Roots & Shoots is the youth-led community action and learning program of the Jane Goodall Institute. Each year, youth collaborate to make a difference for animals, the environment, and their local communities.

Looking for a way to help kids in your community? Host your very own Bake Sale for No Kid Hungry.

Roots & Shoots Turns Learners into Leaders ~ Roots & Shoots places the power and responsibility for creating community-based solutions to big challenges in the hands of the young people.

Volunteer Opportunities for Kids

Volunteer Opportunities for Kids @EvaVarga.netVolunteering is an opportunity to change lives, including your own.  It is generally considered an altruistic activity and is intended to promote goodness or improve human quality of life. In return, this activity can produce a feeling of self-worth and respect.

As a family, we have made volunteering and service learning a major component of our homeschool. Over the years, we have had opportunities to volunteer in a variety of ways. I’d like to share some of those experiences with you in hopes of inspiring you to seek out volunteer opportunities for kids in your local community.

Roots & Shoots

My children and I have been active in Roots & Shoots since they were toddlers. Roots & Shoots is a youth-led community action and learning program of the Jane Goodall Institute. The program builds on the legacy and vision of Dr. Jane Goodall to place the power and responsibility for creating community-based solutions to big challenges in the hands of the young people. They are encouraged to work towards three goals: Care & Concern for the Environment, Care & Concern for Animals, and Care & Concern for the Community.

One of the things I love about Roots & Shoots is the flexibility. Through the program, young people map their community to identify specific challenges their neighborhoods face.  From there, they prioritize the problems, develop a plan for a solution, and take action.

Volunteer Opportunities for Kids @EvaVarga.netWe were recently interviewed for a local magazine about our volunteer efforts with Roots & Shoots. My kids loved talking with the reporter about their projects – each sharing what was in their heart and how they have been inspired to do locally.

My son shared his passion for music and talked about how he volunteers regularly at a local retirement home to perform for the residents. He stated, “I really look forward to going. I like giving them something to listen to and I like hearing them share about how music has touched their lives.”

My daughter talked about her long-term study looking at the impact of invasive turtles have on the ecosystem, specifically how they affect the population of native pond turtles. She shared with the reporter the posters she and her friends made to inform the public of the threat releasing pets.

Read my post, Service Learning Through Roots & Shoots to learn more about this dynamic program. You might also consider joining me for a free online course this summer, Turning Learners Into Leaders: Empowering Youth Through Service in Education.

Humane Society / Animal Shelter

Volunteering at a local animal shelter is one of the easiest ways to make a difference. Children can decorate kennels, help with events, foster an animal, or even walk the dogs. Children may be interested in raising monies to purchase food, bedding, or goods as a donation.

When my kids were younger, we volunteered at a shelter regularly to simply play with the cats. They wanted to walk the dogs as well but weren’t quite old enough. Age restrictions will vary so check with your local shelter to learn more.

Rescue Mission / Homeless Shelter

Another great way to give back is to volunteer to serve meals at a homeless shelter. A few years ago, I volunteered in the education department of our local mission and my children were allowed to accompany me. They worked on their own assignments as I walked around the room and helped the women with their coursework and job training skills.

Volunteer Opportunities for Kids @EvaVarga.netLiving History

Some of our fondest memories of volunteering come from our experiences at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon, where we volunteered as living history interpreters, Homeschooling in 1880: Living History Volunteers. In this role, we spent one day a week dressed up in period clothing and told the story of the early pioneers in the high desert. Our story was based loosely on our own ancestors. It was an awesome way to connect with the past as well as develop public speaking skills.

Public Library

My daughter is anxiously awaiting her 13th birthday so that she can serve on our local library’s teen advisory board. In this role she would get to interact with other avid readers, make recommendations to library staff on books, programs, and services, and inform patrons of her favorite books via shelf flags.

What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make. ~ Jane Goodall

Adopt-A-Park

Many municipalities utilize partnerships with local organizations to preserve, beautify and maintain neighborhood parks. Some of the tasks could include pruning, raking, weeding, light painting, graffiti removal, litter removal, tree and flower planting. As a part of the turtle project, my daughter is considering this option for the future.

Community Cleanups & Weed Pulls

Lastly, another way to tap into volunteer work is through organizations like church youth groups, scouts, and local agencies. The California Coastal Commission organizes an annual beach cleanup event in the fall each year.

Invasive species have always been a passion for me and we’ve thereby participated in many community weed pulls – both locally and while on vacation. You can read about our weed pull experience in Hawai’i in my post, Hoaloha ‘aina Weed Pull. Can you find a weed pull or cleanup in your community?

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I have shared additional resources and ideas for volunteer opportunities in my post, It’s Our Turn to Lead: Earth Day 2015,  at Multicultural Kid Blogs. I encourage you to take time to talk over the interests you share as a family and seek out options in your area. In what ways can YOU make a difference?

Join Us for National Public Lands Day

We are excited to once again join volunteers of all ages for National Public Lands Day’s (NPLD) 20th Anniversary on Sept. 28th. National Public Lands Day is the nation’s largest, single-day volunteer effort for public lands. This is a great service learning opportunity that began in 1994 with three sites and 700 volunteers. It proved to be a huge success and became a yearly tradition, typically held on the last Saturday in September.

NPLD

In 2012, we collected trash at a National Park site in our community.  Between the three of us, we collected 11 pounds of trash in just a couple of hours.  We were confidant we would be awarded the weirdest find – we found an umbrella and a small rug, but another group found a wig!

Tasks and activities vary by site but over the years, National Public Lands Day volunteers have:

  • Collected an estimated 23,000 pounds of invasive plants
  • Built and maintained an estimated 1,500 miles of trails
  • Planted an estimated 100,000 trees, shrubs and other native plants
  • Removed an estimated 500 tons of trash from trails and other places
  • Contributed an estimated $18 million through volunteer services to improve public lands across the country

Seven federal agencies as well as nonprofit organizations and state, regional and local governments participate in the annual day of caring for public lands. National Public Lands Day keeps the promise of the Civilian Conservation Corps, that worked from 1933-1942 to preserve and protect America’s natural heritage. Find an event in your local area here, NPLD Sites.

If you are unable to participate on the 28th .. not to worry.  Appreciating our public lands is not limited to just one day. With events, educational programs and clean-up efforts happening every day across the country, there are plenty of fun ways for all Americans to regularly enjoy, protect and maintain our public lands.  The Public Lands Every Day Events Calendar lists a wide-range of activities that families can participate in. Whether it’s testing your nautical skills in a crazy cardboard boat or restoring the California coastline, you’ll find something for everyone.

The Benefits of Service Learning from an Early Age

I have always loved learning and believe that education is a community effort.  As an elementary teacher, I continually sought out service learning projects that enabled my students to become involved in the community while simultaneously complementing our classroom lessons and skills.  As a parent, I want my children to grow up with volunteering as an integral part of their lives.

My children and I began volunteering together in the spring of 2006 when my daughter was 3 ½ years old and my son was 15 months.   We volunteered as Living History Interpreters.  We dressed as homesteaders near Prineville, Oregon in 1880 and interacted with the public as they visited our homestead.  In this role, we utilized our knowledge of the region’s history to educate the public about the past.  With the exception of the winter months, we typically volunteered one day a week for approximately 5 hours.

We also worked with the Adopt-An-Animal program, whereby donors provided financial support for the care of the animals at the museum.  In turn, we sent the donor a thank you letter and a packet of information specific to the animal they selected which included an animal fact sheet, a certificate with a color photograph of the animal, a decal, and an activity sheet.

The children helped me by finding the necessary photographs and thereby learned to identify the names of our native wildlife.  They also learned about why the animals are in our care — all were unable to survive in the wild, typically because they were injured or became dependent on humans for food. Specific needs of the animals such as diet, habitat, and medical care provided great learning opportunities as well.  We typically worked 1-3 hours a week throughout the year.

While we no longer volunteer at the museum, I continue to involve the children in a variety of activities around our community.  We collect trash and pull non-native, invasive weeds along the river when we go for walks.  We donate canned food for the local food banks.  During the holiday season, we donate gifts for children in need.  Last spring, we began a garden to grow a few organic vegetables for our table.

Each service learning endeavor helps the children to think about what it means to take care of our community, animals, and the environment.

Service-learning is a teaching method that enriches learning by engaging students in meaningful service to their communities. Young people apply academic skills to solving real-world issues, linking established learning objectives with genuine needs. They lead the process, with adults as partners, applying critical thinking and problem-solving skills to concerns such as hunger, pollution, and diversity.

In the beginning, I wasn’t sure what sort of volunteering made sense for young children. In selecting activities, I take into consideration the interests and concerns that each of my children have developed.

One of the least expected outcomes was recognizing how the children have discovered themselves.  When we started, my daughter was a little timid and slow to talk with adults. In a short time, she learned to interact with the staff and other volunteers as individuals, carrying on conversations and discussing her thoughts openly.  On the homestead, she was always eager to show visitors how to pump water for the garden and can easily identify the vegetables we grow.

It is already clear that their life experiences and these service learning opportunities have helped to ensure that they will be self-assured and outgoing.