When my son was thirteen, his Kindle e-reader broke. Rather than buying a new e-reader, he decided to replace the screen on his Kindle. He ordered a screen on eBay and soon had his Kindle in working order. It didn’t take long for my son to realize he’d stumbled upon a money-making idea. Soon he was scouring eBay for broken kindles, fixing them, and selling them for profit. As the same time, he was researching everything he could about e-readers and running a profitable eBay store.
This was the beginning of a homeschool journey I had never anticipated. As the years went by, my son’s new hobby occupied more and more of his time. Up to this point I had been a schedule-making, list-checking, clock-watching homeschool mom. Now I was thrown into a type of homeschooling that took more faith.
I rethought my homeschool plans and started thinking how I could take his interests and the hours he was spending on his business and turn them into high school credit.
Maybe you’re in the same place. Maybe your teen isn’t that excited about school, and needs the motivation of seeing that learning has a purpose. If you’re a long-time homeschooler, you might need to remind yourself of the flexibility that homeschooling offers and allow your teen the time and freedom to pursue his interests without feeling guilty. If you’re a “suddenly” homeschooler because of the chaos we’re experiencing, your teen might want to use this extra time to find out what he or she is really interested in studying. Who knows? You might decide that you like this less traditional way of learning.
If your teen has a hobby or passion they are spending a lot of time on, here are some steps to take to decide where to you can award credit for work they are already doing.
Make note of what your teen is already spending time on.
For my son that included the following:
- Repairing, photographing, and listing Kindles on eBay
- Researching how to make his store more profitable
- Making a website
- Doing market research, contacting suppliers, expanding his business
- Learning basic computer programming for an app he was working on
- Using QuickBooks to keep track of profit
Your list could look very different, but try to take into account all the different aspects of your child’s business or hobby.
Compare this list with possible high school classes
With this list in mind, look at common high school classes and decide which ones you can honestly put on a transcript. After considering the amount of time my son was spending on different areas of his business, and looking at this list of possible high school classes, I decided to put at least some of the following classes on his transcript.
- Introduction to business
- Business management
- Entrepreneurial skills
- Personal finance
- Web Design
- Web Programming
- Business Writing (using the book Business Writing Today as a supplement).
Of course, even if you can’t find your child’s area of interest on a list of high school classes, you can still award them credit as an elective. One high school credit is generally 120 hours of work. Any time spent working on the hobby or learning about the hobby can be included. This can include any books, articles, or videos watched on the subject.
Decide if you want to supplement with outside classes
If your child is lacking some hours or would like to explore a subject further consider supplementing with courses. Schoolhouse Teachers is an affordable option that has hundreds of classes available for one low fee. For example, here are some courses I could have had my son take on Schoolhouse Teachers.
- Internet Entrepreneurship for Teens
- Accounting 101
- Business Plan Creation
- Starting a Micro-Business for Teens
- Personal Finance
Or maybe your child has completely different interests. They might be interested in sewing, or film making, or baking, or fixing automobiles, or drawing, or graphic design, or shoeing horses. Whatever it is, you can use these interests as a springboard for classes they could take. There are many other options online that you could use to supplement their learning. And, of course, there’s always the library (during normal times.)
Of course, if you feel like your son or daughter has put in enough hours and learned enough on their own, that’s fine, too. They might not need to take extra classes. That’s generally the path we took. You have that flexibility with homeschooling.
Advantages of Using your Teens Interest for Credit
Awarding your teen credit for his interests allows you to ease your child’s workload in high school. That way he’ll have time to continue exploring his interests and he’ll be much more likely to exit high school with a clearer idea of what he wants to do in life. For example, my oldest son was very involved in the National Bible Bee during his high school years. Due to the time he spent studying the Bible, he realized that he wants to go to Bible college to continue his studies. I suspect because of his involvement in the Bible Bee (at least in part), he had no problem getting accepted to the college of his choice.
So I invite you to take a look at what your teen is interested in. What credit could you give him for what he is already doing? If your teen is putting a significant amount of hours into something, it could be turned into a credit-worthy class.
You might be wondering how this all turned out with my son. Well, the end hasn’t been written yet (and that made me hesitate to write this article.) But out of his experience with that first broken Kindle he, along with his brothers, started our family business, Kindle Repair Plus. We now all work together at the business and it, along with a few other side ventures, supports our family. We’ve sold over half a million dollars in Kindles and are continuing to expand into other areas. I suspect this is just the beginning for my son since he likes to explore new things. He’s only seventeen, but I suspect that whatever he decides for the future, his experience in his business will be a great asset to him.
How about you? I’d love to hear what your teen is interested in and how they’re earning credit for it.
Or if you’ve been suddenly thrown into doing “school at home”, can you see your teen having more time to pursue a hobby or business they’re interested in?