One of the advantages of homeschooling is the freedom and flexibility to take advantage of real world learning opportunities.
My favorite method of preparing my kids for the future is with mentors and apprenticeships.
I wish there was a system for finding an apprenticeship that is a good fit for your student. In my experience, the critical factors are your child's personal goals and the available opportunities in your area.
You can use resources like the US Department of Labor Apprenticeship USA website or the Vocational Information Center’s page of Apprenticeship Training Resources to find apprenticeships in your area, but that's not the only way to locate this kind of opportunity for your student.
We didn’t set out to find apprenticeships. They were a natural by-product of being friendly and involved in our community. We talked to people about our home education goals and our children’s interests. We asked questions about the best way our kids could gain experience. Older folks love to pass on their wisdom and experience to an appreciative young person. Some charitable organizations allow young people to get experience volunteering. These methods have landed our children great opportunities with people who have been wonderful partners in our homeschooling efforts.
Common questions about apprenticeships:
What is the difference between a regular job and an apprenticeship?
Intentions and objectives. The goal of an apprenticeship is to learn about a trade, business, or industry; receive on-the-job training, and exercise specific skill sets. While some apprenticeships are paid, many students gain valuable experience by volunteering, such as for a hospital or charitable organization.
A ‘regular job’ also teaches valuable skills, but the primary purpose is to earn money, not learn a trade.
For example, Kenny wants to learn to be a pet groomer, and volunteers at a local grooming parlor -- job shadowing and helping out with small tasks until he is old enough to get a work permit. There is also a teen working there as a paid employee who is not interested in becoming a pet groomer. For Kenny this is an apprenticeship, and for the other kid, it's a job.
Your student’s mentor or employer needs to understand that during an apprenticeship, your child is becoming their student during those hours of employment. The lines of communication must open, and you will be asking them to assess your child’s progress for your homeschool records and possible remedial instruction. You will also be creating documentation for your student's high school transcript, noting such things as their job description, work schedule, and skills acquired.
Are there any age restrictions or other laws about minor children and apprenticeships?
Apprenticing in a family business is treated differently than working outside of the family. State requirements for work permits may differ. Some jobs have age restrictions because they involve work that is considered dangerous, and others require certifications to use equipment or chemicals. Ohio Law regarding the employment of minors can be found here. A Google search of “minor wage laws” or “work permit” and the name of your state usually gives you the results you need. I recommend you can read the law for yourself, and know what the employer will expect from you so they are in compliance with the law.
How do I know if my child is ready for something like an apprenticeship?
- Have they acquired the necessary skills to be a help to a mentor or employer?
- Are they physically able to do the kinds of tasks they will be given?
- Are they usually responsible with the duties they have at home?
- Are they able to receive instruction and criticism respectfully?
- Are they able to stand their ground with both adults and peers, or are they easily influenced?
Remember as you ask these questions that no one is perfect. Kids will make mistakes, just like you do.
The point of an apprenticeship is to give them the opportunity to exercise the skills they have acquired, and to learn more about real life vocations related to their career goals.