Thursday, February 24, 2011

Work as a Part of Education


It is possible for a high school student to be complete academic classwork with three or four hours a day of study.  When using a true study, work, and service method of homeschooling high school students, the same principles of time management apply as they do for elementary children.  School is life and lasts during every waking hour!

By the time children are high school students, work is an essential element of their education. Instead of applying it daily, it works best to break study, work, and service into a total amount for an entire week.  Some days work best if heavier in academics while others were weighed more on work or service.

At the high school level, it seems that when using work for a meaningful part of education, it should be meaningful to the student.  There is some work that is required simply because a student is part of the family (cleaning their room, filling the dishwasher, mowing the lawn, etc.).  It is the work that happens because they are part of a family team. Other meaningful work happens because the student sets a goal and then works as a means to achieve it.  Parents can assist with this goal setting, but the student should be the main force in this decision-making process.  Simply giving the child more chores each week so they can get their time in doesn’t seem to work too well for teenagers!  But, if they get a vision for work, and it becomes purposeful for them — they will willingly stick to it and become involved in the benefits of work.  It may be that they establish a small business of their own (bread baking, housecleaning for a neighbor, babysitting, building computers, mowing lawns) or that they become employees in the business of one of their parents (generally they are allowed by law to work at a younger age if it is a family business).  For some children it may mean taking a job in town (working at a fast food restaurant, as a grocery bag boy or girl, or a daycare worker).  Their goal may start out simply as a way to earn their own money, but over time they generally become enthusiastic and cheerful in using work as a part of their education.

Another facet of work that can benefit the home school student is for the parent to establish internships for their teen.   It can be very effective in giving children opportunities to learn new tasks and to see if they were interested in a variety of careers.  To establish an internship:  choose a place the student is interested in working, then write a letter to the business owner or supervisor, requesting an internship for your child.  Be sure to emphasize that this is a volunteer position and that your child does not expect to be paid for their work.  Outline a schedule of 40 hours of volunteer work that fits into the schedule of the employer and the student.  When the 40 hours are complete, write another letter to the employer, thanking them for the opportunity they gave your child.  Along with the letter, send a form that evaluates your child’s performance in the tasks they were assigned.  Ask them to assign a ‘letter grade’ to your child for the work they did.  If you are using this as a part of a unit study (work/academics combined), this becomes their grade unless you choose to add a written paper or some other form of evaluation to the grade.   In that case, combine the grades according to percentages you establish.  Forty hours of work-study is equivalent to 1/2 high school credit.

Providing teens opportunity to use work as a part of their school program gives them the opportunity to apply bits, facts, and facets of information learned and apply them to their daily life.  Learning to work as a teen creates adults that have a strong work ethic, a greater sense of self-worth, and have a sense of incentive.

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