Don’t leave this out! Volunteering for Homeschool High Schoolers: Why and How.
Volunteering for Homeschool High Schoolers: Why and How
In my years wearing my hat as a counselor and career coach (I am a homeschool working mom), I have experienced some sessions with young people who are experiencing regret. What was their regret? It was the regret that they had spent their high school and college or vocational training years with not much going on in their lives but academics, training and fun.
Don’t get me wrong, academics, training and fun are necessary, but they are not the whole picture. For young people (and adults in general), to be a healthy, fulfilled person requires building time where someone or something else is the focus.
Volunteering or earning service hours really should not be an “extra, if we have time” for homeschool high schoolers. Why is that? Let’s talk about it, then I will share how to keep track of service hours, where to find opportunities and how to capture it on the transcript.
Four reasons why homeschool high schoolers should do volunteering
There are lots of reasons why teens should be volunteering somewhere, but here are four of them. Volunteering:
Helps them develop skills in perspective taking
Volunteering helps teens climb into other people’s shoes, to think about others’ needs and hopes. Perspective-taking is a necessary skill for healthy living.
Is a good way to build confidence and overcome social anxiety
Helps the build a transcript with “sparkle“
Colleges usually love seeing volunteering on the transcript. It shows a healthy, well-rounded teen who will be more likely to contribute to the college culture. (See below for ways to record service on the transcript.)
Gives them opportunities to build soft skills like networking and teamwork
Volunteering is often done in groups of some sort or another. When teens work for a leader and with peers, they learn teamwork skills as they go along. Not only that, they make connections with adults. They are building their own networks (and maybe building relationships with people who might write recommendation letters later on).
- Does your homeschool group have a “service team” for high schoolers? Here are some ideas of you would like to start one.
Ideas for volunteering
There’s not ONE right way to volunteer! It is a wise idea to sit down with your teen and ask some questions:
- What are your teens’ interests? Are there volunteer opportunities there?
- For instance, a teen who loves pets might volunteer at an animal shelter.
- Or a teen who loves elderly people might volunteer with craft time at an assisted living community
- Do they have career goals (if they do not have a clue, check out this Career Exploration guide in our Authoritative Guide series of posts)
- Are there service opportunities available in the local community, such as church or homeschool groups?
- One of the nicest things I have experienced is working with teen volunteers at homeschool conferences
- Of course, there’s ALWAYS something that needs to be volunteered for at church:
- Set up/clean up for events
- Vacation Bible School
- Sound systems
- One small note, churches sometimes LOVE homeschool volunteers so much that they overwork them. Remember to help your teens keep healthy boundaries on their time. (Time audits can help.)
- Keep in mind that you are part of the time consideration. What are you available for? Really! Until teens can drive on their own, parents are doing the driving back and forth. This means juggling homeschooling lessons and family needs for the whole family.
Here are some volunteer opportunities that our homeschool high schoolers have done
- Digital volunteer work (check out this episode of Homeschooling with Technology for tons of ideas)
- Citizen Science (check Nasa’s website or your state’s natural resources department, they have citizen science opportunities)
- Church service (nursery, Sunday school, set up/clean up, sound systems, worship team, church office help)
- Missions trips (btw- not only have we given our teens some service hours- thirty-four to forty hours per week, but we also give them a quarter credit of “Cross Cultural Experience” as a Social Studies elective in the Courses section of the transcript.
- Helping out the elderly- look around the neighborhood and see who needs leaves raked, lawns mowed or snow shoveled or home maintenance and do it for free.
- Also, single moms- they often need the same things as the elderly. Who are the single mothers in your church or neighborhood. ALSO- babysitting.
- Families in a crisis time, such as a parent in the hospital or experiencing an unexpected loss. Have teens prepare and bring a meal or do some babysitting.
- Raising service dogs. (Kym and her family have been raising service puppies for Seeing Eye for many years.)
- Local organizations of interests to teens:
- Animal shelter volunteers
- Service animal training
- Non-profits (My teens did projects for Urban Promise- photography, grounds work, promotions)
- Fire companies
- Food banks (church food pantries, community food banks)
- Rescue missions or homeless volunteerism
- Our Cousin Natalie Mack’s teens have had good experiences with National Beta Club
- Don’t forget there’s a Presidential Service Award teens can earn
- Our friend, Cynthia Dunn, shared some of her teens’ service projects in this post.
- Homeschool Highschool Podcast interview with our Cousin Ticia Messing about finding volunteer opportunities for teens and families
- Our friend, Gena Mayo at I Choose Joy shares more ideas for volunteering
How to record volunteer hours and activities on the transcript
As you know, there’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school…or to handle homeschool transcripts. However, I will share with you how we handle recording service and volunteer activities.
Record total service hours
At the foot of the transcript, we include a section called “Service Hours”. In it we simply record the total number of hours our teens have done service or volunteer work. (You can get an editable pdf transcript form for your teens that is like the one we used for our homeschool high schoolers.)
In the Extracurriculars section on the transcript, list service that is done regularly
We list our teens frequent activities in the Extracurricular section of the transcript, along with the school year(s) they were done. For instance, if our teens volunteered in the church nursery each month for their junior and senior years of high school, we would list as Extracurriculars:
Church nursery volunteer, 11th and 12th grades
We do this because it shows commitment and consistency in at least some of their volunteer activities. This does not mean that they should not participate in one-off service projects. Of course they should! However, those are not recorded as Extracurriculars.
You can do this!
Volunteering is worth the effort. You might find ideas locally for your family to volunteer together (get the younger homeschoolers started early)!