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We are speaking at conferences around the country! See us at:
August 5, 2017: Christian Homeschooling Association—Springfield, IL (Carol Becker)
Don’t miss our informative new eBooks, now available from the HSLDA store!
Develop a Plan for High School is the first in a three-book series by Carol Becker and Diane Kummer, HSLDA High School Consultants. This e-book covers how to choose courses, assign high school credits, evaluate coursework, and improve time management for you and your high school student.
Simplify Your Recordkeeping and Transcript is the second in a three-book series by Carol Becker and Diane Kummer, HSLDA High School Consultants. This e-book covers in-depth details on both recordkeeping and transcripts.
Not able to attend one of Carol or Diane’s high school events? HSLDA’s recorded event High School at Home: Turning Possibility into Reality features sessions on developing a high school plan, creating transcripts, charting a course for post-high school plans, and more—with lots of encouragement! Purchase it at the HSLDA store.
3 Essentials for Employable Teens
|Dear Friends,||June 1, 2017|
Do you remember your first summer job? Maybe it was great, maybe it was awful, but there’s no feeling like earning your own paycheck. Most teens eagerly look forward to earning their own money. As a parent, you can leverage this enthusiasm to prepare your teens for employment by selecting pertinent academics, modeling soft skills, and imparting practical tools.
Many jobs your teen tackles will require foundational knowledge including strong reading, writing, communication, and math abilities. Take time to lay out a custom four-year high school academic plan. This gives your teen a road map to graduation. Although the high school plan is definitely subject to change and needs fine-tuning as your teen’s goals become clearer, starting this overview gives a long range picture of courses that are important for your teen to complete. Our ebook, Develop a High School Plan, guides you step-by-step through this process and suggests academic core courses in English, math, science, history, and foreign languages. Next, add a variety of elective courses that will help to provide experience, hone skills, and broaden your teen’s interests.
During the second semester of 10th grade, we encourage families to explore post-high school careers. Many teens benefit from taking a career interest test and pursuing job shadowing opportunities. You can create a career development elective that gives your teen an opportunity to research various jobs, and you will find recommended resources here. Career videos can help your teen understand the training and education requirements for various occupations as well as trends in the job market.
Modeling soft skills
Small businesses, large companies, government agencies, nonprofits, apprenticeship programs, the military, and other employers look for employees whose character benefits the organization. Often referred to as “soft” skills, these important character traits are invaluable in any job.
Some soft skills may come more naturally to some teens. Regardless of your teen’s natural abilities, however, deliberately take time to teach and reinforce relational skills, work habits, and personal conduct that future employers regard as important. When it comes to hiring entry-level employees, soft skills often carry more weight than academic achievement, technical training, or work experience. See “The 10 Most In-Demand Soft Skills” from Business News Daily for a list of relevant skills.
A career advice website called The Balance has a number of helpful articles on the difference between “soft” skills and “hard” skills as well as other employment topics including technical and educational training and financial planning. Teens should read their articles on:
- conflict resolution
- For teens who have more definite careers in mind, they can find lists of both soft and hard skills by occupation.
Soft skills take practice! Set some goals to help develop certain skills within your homeschool context. Here are several soft skills with ideas for how to help your teens develop each skill:
- Punctuality — Sharpen this skill in your teen as you require him to be ready (assignments in hand) for an outside class so that he arrives before the class begins. If your teen takes an online course, encourage him to sign on and have text materials ready several minutes ahead of the start time. Reinforce punctuality in other areas such as arriving early for sports practices, music lessons, debate tournaments, and dental appointments. (Parents, this means that you have to make it a point to set a good example in these areas, too!)
- Responsibility — Encourage your teen by giving him opportunities to demonstrate his ability to follow through with assignments and chores. Regularly set deadlines for school assignments and consider deducting points for late work. Firm deadlines enable your teen to practice and strengthen time management skills. The University of Minnesota’s “Time Management Principles,” “Managing Your Time” tips from Dartmouth College, and Sean Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens provide ideas to help improve time management skills.
- Initiative — Encourage initiative by suggesting that your teen plan educational field trips that correlate to selected history or science units. You could ask him to search for ticket information, map out an itinerary, and brainstorm a possible follow-up assignment such as creating a poster, developing a brochure, or giving an oral presentation about what he learned on the field trip.
- Leadership — Have your teen come up with a different community service project each year to hone leadership skills. Inc magazine offers a short description of 10 skills good leaders possess.
There are many other soft skills your teens can work on during the high school years that will bolster his employability. Consider printing The Balance’s list of soft skills, so your teen can choose several to focus on each year of high school. Reinforce these skills with projects that require and emphasize particular attributes.
Imparting practical tools
Before teens actively begin searching for a job, they should develop the skills of building a resume, writing a cover letter, and practicing interview skills. Making progress in these areas will simplify the process when job opportunities arise.
A résumé concisely documents your teen’s accomplishments,
proficiencies, interests, and education. A high school student’s resume should
activities, honors and
awards, community service,
skills, and certifications; it also lists academic emphasis and achievements such
as earning a high school
Creating a resume is a worthwhile English assignment! We encourage your teen to begin a resume in 9th grade and then add to it each year of high school. Here are a few resources to help your teen build his own resume:
- Uptowork’s “Complete Guide to Writing a Student Resume” includes tips on format and layout.
- “How to Make a Resume: A Step by Step Guide,” which provides examples of what to include (and not to include!) on a resume.
- Creating Your High School Resume, by Kathryn Kraemer Troutman, gives detailed resume preparation advice specifically for high school students.
- HSLDA’s Homeschooling thru High School section has additional resume resources.
A cover letter is the first opportunity your teen has to make a good first impression. Typically, a cover letter accompanies a resume and showcases an applicant’s strengths, experience, and skills as they directly apply to a particular job posting. Therefore, each job application necessitates a customized cover letter. Give your teen the assignment of writing several cover letters for a variety of jobs so she can practice highlighting different aspects of her resume. Once again The Balance provides examples, tips, and templates:
- Cover letter examples and tips
- Cover letter templates
- Carefully edit every cover letter! Proper grammar, punctuation, and vocabulary are essential to make a good first impression.
Last but not least, help your teen prepare for the interview process. Once employers have narrowed down their list of prospective applicants, most supervisors use interviews to evaluate a person’s composure, fitness, and suitability for the job. The resume and cover letter provide the outline of your teen’s abilities; however, the interview puts flesh on the bones! Here are some ideas to help teens improve their interview skills:
- Learn how to dress appropriately for an interview.
- Anticipate the kinds of questions a candidate is likely to be asked.
- Role play as an interviewer and give your teen practice in articulating concise, informative, and engaging answers.
- The Art of Eloquence article “Say What You Mean on a Job Interview”provides interview preparation and presentation tips.
As your teens prepare for employment, these resources will help them present themselves with confidence.
Then, encourage your teens to set their sights on that first part-time, summer, or full-time job!
Next month’s newsletter will explore the wide variety of course options available which include parent-taught, online, co-op, tutorial, and dual enrollment courses.
Thankful for our jobs and the opportunity to cheer you on,
Carol Becker and Diane Kummer
HSLDA High School Consultants