Does your high school student need to build up their résumé for college scholarship applications?
Here are five less conventional ways for homeschoolers to get the leadership experiences that scholarship sponsors and colleges are looking for in applicants.
When our oldest started high school, I knew that she would need to have some leadership roles to put on her college scholarship applications. As a homeschooler though, she couldn’t just join some clubs at school and run for office.
As a homeschooler, you may feel that you have fewer opportunities for leadership roles. However, that can easily be turned around into a positive—because of homeschooling, there is more time for outside activities.
First, check out the five ways to get leadership experience below.
Then, use this handy printable Teen Volunteer Hours Log from the Free Resource Library (look under “Homeschool Help and Planning”) to keep track of the time your teen spends volunteering.
Finally, read this article from Amy at Homeschool Helper Online about finding scholarships for college. (Both of her daughters received full-ride scholarships for tuition + room/board and her son received scholarships to cover all of his tuition!).
Here are five of the ways that my kids have gotten homeschool leadership experience:
Homeschool Leadership through 4-H:
My oldest joined 4-H at age nine. She was terrified of talking to people that she didn’t know. She wouldn’t even consider the possibility of speaking in front of a group. With the gentle encouragement of the 4-H leaders, she began by participating in small projects. Next, she started giving simple one or two sentence reports on her projects during club meetings. By the time she was a senior in high school, she was the president of both her club and the county wide junior council that reports to the county 4-H council.
Our club has a leadership project that meets monthly to plan the regular club meetings, learn leadership skills, and play team-building games. So far, all three of my older kids have held all of the executive officer positions in our club. I’ve seen how their confidence and public speaking grows with each meeting. 4-H promotes the learning of leadership skills at the club, county, state and national levels through public speaking, conferences, community service and officer positions at all levels.
Homeschool Leadership through Student Council:
One of the local homeschool co-ops has a student council that works as a liaison between the teens and the co-op’s board. It’s open to high school students in the co-op who want to learn leadership skills, serve as role models, complete community service projects, and have fun. The teens plan and complete around ten community service projects each year. Additionally, they help coordinate the monthly teen social events along with attending meetings to work on developing their leadership skills.
Another local homeschool group has a teen group that meets twice monthly. Each month they complete a community service project and attend a fun, team-building activity.
Homeschool Leadership through Church:
Have your teens volunteer to help plan and work at your church’s annual Vacation Bible School. It’s even more fun when they recruit some friends to volunteer along with them. They could also ask to help lead games or songs in their youth group. My daughters have teamed up with some of their friends from church to plan and lead girls’ overnight retreats for the teen girls. When my older son aged out of the children’s Christmas programs, he started helping corral the preschoolers during their program. At the time, I believe he compared it to cat herding, but he still enjoyed getting to better know his younger siblings’ friends.
Other ways to volunteer at church include going on a summer mission trip and joining an outreach or worship team.
Don’t have a church home? I was a VBS coordinator for 8 years and never turned away a volunteer, even if they didn’t attend that church. Most churches are thrilled to have extra volunteers.
Homeschool Leadership through Civil Air Patrol/Cadet Corps/Young Marines/Naval Sea Cadet Corps:
These youth programs are for preteens and teens to learn citizenship, teamwork and leadership skills. In addition, they learn technical skills such as search and rescue, in a structured learning environment.
One of my sons has been in Civil Air Patrol for several years. Here’s what he had to say about it, “We learn about aerospace, how to complete emergency services missions, and go on orientation flights. We train and learn through drill, physical fitness activities, and on-line testing. There are camps, parades, and squadron activities to attend. You go through the ranks of a cadet from an airman to a non-commissioned officer to officer. Finally, you also get to wear a uniform, go on real search and rescue type missions and even fly a Cessna.” Because of Civil Air Patrol, he has created a goal to obtain his pilot’s license by the time he graduates from high school.
DIY Homeschool Leadership:
Create your own event! Let your teens start with smaller scale projects like organizing an Operation Christmas Child Shoe Box event or a collection of old shoes for the Shoeman Water Project. Then let them work up to larger events like a 5K to raise money for a favorite charity or a NuManna food packaging event. My oldest son has helped a friend hand out cookies and hot chocolate at a local park for the last few years. It’s a popular spot where people gather to take photos at a “Magic” Christmas tree and perfect for spreading Christmas cheer! Learn more about how to create your own Christmas Community Event here.
Have you found ways for your teenager to add leadership to their high school resume?
There are other more conventional ways of gaining leadership skills, such as American Heritage Girls and Trail Life, American Legion Girls State and Boys State, and team captain or manager of a sports team. However, the often overlooked ways have worked well for our family.
Please comment below and tell us what leadership roles your teenagers have found.
Look for the rest of this series of Hope and Help for Homeschooling High School:
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This is an updated and revised version of an article that I originally wrote for homeschoolhelperonline.com. Reused with permission.