As you homeschool through high school you will notice that your teen’s interests are becoming decidedly more focused. By the time he’s a junior he may not know what he wants to be when he grows up, but he probably knows what he definitely does not want to be! Designing a high school plan that allows time for an apprenticeship or internship is a practical way to help your child narrow his focus even more while he gains an appreciation of how things he’s learned during his studies are applied in the real world.
Depending on how your homeschool schedule runs, an apprenticeship could run for six weeks or a full semester. This will give your teen a chance to explore as many as eighteen different careers before finishing high school (6 week apprenticeships starting in sophomore year)! And, each apprenticeship will include hands-on experience and some type of finished “product,” allowing you to count each as an elective for his transcript.
To start, brainstorm with your teen and create a list of jobs he finds interesting. Next to each idea, think of friends, family, neighbors and acquaintances involved in that job or who might have contacts. Create an outline of what exactly you hope to gain from the apprenticeship and what the terms should be before approaching anyone. Plan to dedicate ten hours per week to the apprenticeship. Of those ten hours, five should be spent doing work as assigned by the mentor. The other five should include active mentoring and help with a project related to that field.
For example, if your daughter is interested in a culinary career, ask a trained chef if she could spend five hours a week doing food prep (peeling potatoes, etc.) and five hours a week working directly with the chef learning various techniques ultimately running the kitchen for a shift. The model could be applied to virtually any job provided you can find someone willing to take on a mentoring role. And, you’d be surprised how willing people are to mentor – people who truly enjoy their work love to talk about it and teach others.
If your child is interested in a skilled, hands-on profession, do an internet search for existing apprenticeship programs in your area. Many industries are severely short on people with specific skills like welding, electrical, plumbing and heavy equipment. Even if your child plans to go to college, learning these skills in high school will broaden his resume and enable him to get part time work in school with meaningful pay.
Your child might get lucky and find an apprenticeship he loves and wants to pursue. As long as the mentor is willing, let the relationship continue for as long as it’s beneficial to both your child and the mentor.
The best benefit of incorporating a round of apprenticeships into your homeschool high school is the opportunity it gives your teen a chance to get out into the adult world and to be treated as an adult. Apprenticeships build maturity and a new respect for what is involved in a variety of jobs.