Homeschooler to Entrepreneur Party Planner

Creating a Party Planner

Marla had always loved helping her mom plan family get-togethers and events. Her talents were a blend of organization, creativity, and artistic flair. She was 16 years old, finishing her homeschool 10th-grade curriculum, when a church member sparked her interest in a career as a party planner.

Sally was an adorable little five-year-old about to turn six. Her mom was talking with Marla’s mom about how to manage a party for Sally. She didn’t want to do one of the party’s at a local restaurant, especially since the guests, like Sally and her family, were vegetarian and tried to eat healthy. Marla remembers walking up as they were talking. She joined the conversation and injected some great ideas that were very intriguing to Sally’s mom.

After a few minutes of conversation, Sally’s mom asked Marla if she would be willing to help her put it together. She even offered her a small payment if she could take the time to help plan and also run the party. Marla was so excited, that her mom agreed. Looking back, she admitted she didn’t really give it enough thought, but it did work out well.

Planning the First Party

A typical almost six-year-old, Sally loved all kinds of animals. Marla and Sally’s mom agreed on a pet theme. Marla researched easy, healthy, vegetarian finger foods; put together a few easy game choices for young children; and designed the invitations. She asked her younger sisters to help with the games and decorations. All the details came together, and the party was a huge success!

After that day, Marla was asked to help others put together events and parties. She also helped with the church events. Although she made a reasonable income, her love of the planning and hosting far outweighed any monetary earnings.

During this time she remembers still thinking of taking some computer design courses and pursuing that career. She enjoyed computer design, but her favorite activities were still party planning and hosting. Her mom saw the excitement in her face each time she was asked to plan, and the energy she instilled into each event.

Planning the Future

Marla’s mom sat down with Marla one day to go through senior graduation ideas and future plans. Marla showed her the latest course information she had received. Her mom listened as she always did and then spoke. “Marla, have you considered your own business as a party planner?” That’s all she said, then waited for Marla’s response.

“Do you think I could do that? I mean, as a real business? I’d love to, but is it really a business?”

Marla’s mom was prepared. She showed her several other similar businesses and suggested Marla do a little research on the topic.

A Business is Born

Two days later Marla was filing the needed papers to make her business a reality. It was quick, very quick. But, in reality, she had been practicing for two years. Now that she had the focus directed at her future, she was ready to jump in.

She used the savings from the previous events she had planned and put together a nice website. Business cards, flyers, and a few other essentials were also purchased. Her business was now real, and she eagerly began marketing.

Word of mouth and referrals from previous customers gave her a good start. Some weeks were busier than others. She used the open time to complete her studies and further research her chosen business. New ideas were as plentiful as her ambition.

Although she was quite organized, she found that she needed help with the business side of things. Tracking expenses, income, and such details were often set aside in favor of designing party favors and attending to party details. Her brother offered his assistance with that, and a team was created.

Marla loved the kids’ events, and also enjoyed those for adults such as wedding showers, baby showers, and birthday and anniversary parties. The variety offered her a chance to really stretch her talents, and she loved the challenge.

A Special Party to Plan

Her favorite event that she planned offered no monetary compensation, but created precious memories. Always close to her parents and grandparents, Marla was honored to be able to plan her grandparents’ 50th Anniversary party. Guests of all ages were invited and many came from quite a distance. It was her biggest event to that time, but also the most important.

Marla’s business will celebrate its first official year soon. She is making more money than if she had graduated with a computer design degree, and has not had to pay for college or tech school. Her enthusiasm and hard work have granted her many good referrals.

But, more importantly, Marla is using her talents to do what she loves, and helping others in the process.

entrepreneur partnership

Homeschool…to Entrepreneur Partnership

Many homeschoolers choose business over college. Homeschooled all his life, Stephen was not sure he wanted to attend college. He visited several colleges, spoke with recruiters and current students, took the ACT test in preparation, but was still not certain that life was for him.

His ACT scores were extremely high, opening up scholarship opportunities that would help pay for a four-year degree at some of the best schools. Still, he hesitated.

Jeremy and Stephen had been friends for many years; their families enjoyed social time together often. Jeremy, also homeschooled, had good scores on his tests. He had always just assumed that college was the next step, although he had no idea what he wanted as a career.

entrepreneur partnershipThe boys often helped others in their church and neighborhood with needed chores. They did lawn work, cleaning out garages, took care of pets while owners were away. They learned as they went; their customers were willing to teach them skills while getting help. Often they received pay, but other times they just did it to help out a friend. These odd jobs were just a part of their everyday lives; they enjoyed working, being busy, and helping others.

entrepreneur partnerIt was a cool September morning when their futures changed. They were helping Roy, an elderly friend of theirs from church. Roy lived alone now and often needed help with cleaning and yard work. They even kept his dog bathed and brushed.

While taking a break from trimming trees, the boys and Roy chatted. Roy remarked that he sure would miss them, their talks and their help, when they went off to college. They assured him that they would help whenever they were home. Then he asked the question: Had they decided what they wanted to do with their lives?

The boys were silent for a few minutes. Stephen remembers stirring his cider with the cinnamon stick, feeling awkward and not knowing what to say. He really had no idea. Jeremy broke the silence by stating that he guessed he would take his first two years in general studies to try to find what he wanted to do.

Roy explained to the boys that he had his master’s degree and was never against college, but for him, it wasn’t very useful. He had had the same problem; he didn’t know what he wanted to do, but his parents were able to send him to college, so he went. He majored in biology, planning to enter the research field. But, that just didn’t turn out to be what he truly wanted to do. Retired now, the majority of his life he had owned a small restaurant with his wife. While he didn’t regret his college days, he also didn’t find them largely beneficial.

Stephen remembers the question Roy asked them implicitly: “Have you boys thought about expanding your help business, rather than going to college?”

That one question led to many hours of discussions over the next few days. The boys had certainly been making a fair amount of money, even considering that they were only working a few hours each week. They relished the feeling of helping others, especially those that needed their assistance, like Roy.

entrepreneur partnershipBoth boys were hesitant to speak about the possibility with their parents. They knew that their entire families were assuming they were college bound. The reaction of their parents was a pleasant surprise. Not only did they express their support, but they also offered to help them set up a structured business plan. Stephen and Jeremy were business owners before they completed high school.

It helped that they had the support of family and friends. Having a small base of customers helped, too. Building their business slowly while completing high school gave them a chance to build a solid structure and create a good plan.

While they offer basic help for all, they have since specialized in helping the elderly with whatever they need, including transport to shopping and appointments. Remarking that Roy inspired them, they feel that helping the senior citizens in their community is especially important to them, and they also donate time to helping those not able to pay whenever possible.

Now a legal partnership, Stephen and Jeremy have begun to hire others to help them as the business has grown beyond what they can manage full time. Other homeschool teens are now helping them part time, as they grow out their business.

Much happier to be building a business now, rather than spending time in a classroom, both boys remark that the best part of the business is that they are still helping others with necessary tasks and are able to make a difference in others’ lives.

 

Homeschool Fruits: Serenity

According to my handy-dandy dictionary phone app, serenity is “the state of being calm, peaceful, tranquil, unruffled.” It is a freedom of the mind from “annoyance, distraction, anxiety, obsession.”

This is totally you in your daily homeschool life, right?!?

There may have been a bit of sarcasm there. I know when my child still wasn’t reading at nearly nine years old, I didn’t feel particularly calm. The fact that he’s currently a grade and a half behind the rest of his studies in math…does not leave me feeling tranquil.

But, those are momentary emotions, and those emotions do not speak to the longterm truth of homeschooling: Homeschooling allows your child to complete his education where and when he or she is ready — not when the public or private school system dictates, not when Aunt Betty thinks it should be done, not even where any of your own preconceived hopes and plans have placed him. And, that is what brings the homeschool mom or dad the fruit of serenity.

This has been on my mind a lot the last couple months since my son hit his teens. In the elementary years, it seemed we had forever. Now that he’s a teen, I’ve had to remind myself that we still have as long as it takes.

As your child enters or nears the high school years, there is serenity, peace, to be obtained in remembering that homeschooling has so many more options than most of us grew up with in a school system.

Maybe your kid will be the one who homeschools all the way through high school, and completes it with a homeschool transcript, and takes the tests necessary to head into college. That seems like the preferred path to most of us, but don’t get nervous if you’re not sure your child is cut out for that. There are other avenues.

College often provides a base of learning from which you can choose numerous careers.

If he wants to try out an Adventist academy, he can. Many academies would be happy to work with you to integrate your child into their system. If that works out, super! But, here is the serenity of homeschooling again: If it does not work out, if for any reason your child does not flourish in that setting, all he needs to do is come back to homeschooling. There is no success or failure here; there is merely the option of a different path.

Another opportunity might be junior college. She may have finished her freshman and sophomore classes, but is becoming dissatisfied and anxious to “get on with life.” Numerous homeschoolers make it to about 16 years of age, and then decide to just morph into junior college. They may live in a place where they can get dual credit, or they might eventually have to take a GED, but at least they can get a headstart on college. Likewise, your child may not be headed for a four-year degree, but they might want to pick up some classes at the junior college to enhance their personal business plans.

An electrician is a skilled profession that will be needed even in times of poor economy.

If they’re of a more technical bent, they could instead look into the requirements for getting into trade school. Opportunities are endless. Sometimes those of us who took the college route get stymied thinking “whatever could my child do(?!?)” if they don’t have a desire for college. There is so much out there. I’m going to list a bunch here that helped open my brain’s horizons: web developer, electrician, plumber, health field technician, commercial driver, HVAC tech, heavy equipment operator, licensed practical or vocational nurse, medical laboratory tech, computer programmer, non-airline commercial pilot, network systems administrator, animator, electrical engineering tech, first responder like police officer or fireman or EMT, aircraft mechanic, architectural drafter, graphic designer, diesel mechanic, and probably many more than I could think of. Most of those require two years or less of training, and offer quite decent income.

Sometimes the key to Sabbath off in a manual labor job is proficiency. Unwilling to lose my husband’s skill (masonry), his company allowed him to take off Sabbaths when he refused after they initially requested Saturday work.

What about manual labor? Sabbath work requirements are often a fear, but there are jobs to be had where they are willing to work with your Sabbath-off needs, or even where they don’t usually work weekends. Here’s another list of possible jobs or areas for the child who needs to move or craft to be happy: track switch repairman (here’s an example of easy Sabbaths off, as railroad jobs often have weekends off), machinist, petroleum pump system operator, concrete, plant operator, construction, key holder, brick and stone mason, cleanup, iron worker, welding, and more.

Did you just read those last two paragraphs and think they mostly applied to boys? Nope. There are opportunities for your girls, too. Check out these articles to see how women are flourishing in nontraditional trades.

I don’t know what my child will decide to do. He’s not very hip on college right now, but that could change. He might decide to take some basic business classes and operate his own business. He’s a bit of a geek, so I don’t see him spending a lifetime on the construction scaffold, but on the other hand, he might spend summers learning masonry from his dad, and have a needed skill to fall back on no matter what his final career choice is. Or, he might decide to become an engineer or some other school-centric profession, and just take as long to get there as he needs — which could be extensive if current math efforts are indicative. LOL.

There’s no rule that your child needs to finish high school at 17…or 18…or 19…or 20…or period. The serenity fruit of homeschooling comes from knowing that we are allowing our kids to take the path that will best fit their God-given talents and abilities, even if it’s not the path we envisioned.

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you,” Isaiah 26:3 NIV.

~

“The Holy Spirit produces a different kind of fruit: unconditional love, joy, peace, patience, kindheartedness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. You won’t find any law opposed to fruit like this,” Galatians 5:22,23 VOICE.

homeschooler to entrepreneur

Homeschooler to Entrepreneur

homeschooler to entrepreneur

Many students have gone from  homeschooler to entrepreneur. Homeschooling can fuel entrepreneurship ideals and often leads to new small businesses. Creative ideas seem to spring from homeschoolers. Often, one or more of these ideas will develop into a small business.

Many homeschool families have a family-run business that their children take part in. Some children grow into the business and either join or take over as they mature. For others, the children create the business and help propel it to a business for the entire family.

School frustration led to the homeschool journey

Timothy’s homeschool journey began with the fourth grade. His parents grew frustrated with the public school system and its lack of ability to work with Timothy’s need for active learning. A bright child, Timothy needed to touch and manipulate everything in his surroundings. Math papers became flying airplanes, pencils were twirled as he daydreamed, and his teacher continually ridiculed his lack of ability to sit still and just do his work.

homeschooler to entrepreneurAs it turned out, Timothy’s difficulty with seat work and classroom learning was a great fit for this future entrepreneur. Timothy’s parents decided to give him a little break from book work. Allowed to choose his learning paths for a few weeks to break free from school issues, Timothy quickly picked up a love of self-directed learning. Within a short time, he found a hobby that seemed to click well: woodworking.

homeschooler to entrepreneurgrow-boxTimothy began building simple projects. A grow-box for his mom and a simple birdfeeder provided some basic tool skills. Although his dad had never really been much into handcrafts, he encouraged Timothy and helped him accumulate a variety of tools and the skills to use them.

A profitable hobby

homeschooler to entrepreneurBy the time he was a teenager, Timothy had learned to build many items, with many of them sold at a profit. At Christmas time, he took orders for special gifts such as a clock, a cutting board, a picture frame, and a child’s chair.  He even built a beautiful doll house for one of his younger sisters. Other seasonal projects that sold well included tree stands, stocking holders, and wreath stands. At the encouragement of a friend, he invested a little in evergreen boughs and made up a few wreaths, too. His inability to sit still had been transformed into a viable career.

Several of the church members had special items that Timothy had carefully crafted for them. They encouraged him to continue.

After graduation the learning continues

homeschooler to entrepreneurWhen he graduated from his homeschool program, Timothy knew what he wanted to do. College was not considered an option for him; he had no desire to sit still. Although he loved learning, he was a hands-on learner and did not want to sit and listen to professors.

One church member, a retired construction worker, provided the extra encouragement Timothy needed. He helped him find a contractor willing to take on an apprentice, and Timothy headed to work. Although he had already worked with many tools, Timothy now learned even more about using each tool.

Life has choices

At the moment, Timothy is trying to decide if he will continue in the construction field, perhaps even getting his contractor license. Alternatively, he might choose to use his skills to create more of his early projects and sell them at farmers’ markets. He’s even thought of opening his own specialty wood product store. He has options now.

Timothy’s early entrepreneur years, while still in grade school and high school, enabled him to learn some incredible skills while earning a bit of extra money. He credits his parents’ decision to homeschool him when he floundered in public school, as well as their constant encouragement. He also believes the encouragement of family, friends, and church members gave him the needed fuel to move from a fun hobby to an actual small business.

homeschooler to entrepreneurParents and families often make the difference between a child needing extra support in school, and those that find their gifts and talents and the ways to use them.

 

Is College the Only Good Choice?

I don’t know about trends in the rest of the world, but for the last generation or so, America has been on a mission to get every child to college. Is this positive? Negative? Is it possible? Is it even desirable?

Several years ago the American — and much of the world’s — economy went down the tubes. Taking on huge education loans now has more far-reaching consequences for our children than it did for us. And, once our kids get out of college, will there be jobs waiting for them so that they can actually pay off those loans?

You may have watched the Discovery Channel TV show “Dirty Jobs,” with Mike Rowe, who weekly joins laborers in many fields. Though not against college, Rowe has become concerned about our emphasis on college alone. In an interview for reason.com, he had this to say:

“There is a real disconnect in the way that we educate vis-a-vis the opportunities that are available. You have — right now — about 3 million jobs that can’t be filled,” he says, talking about openings in traditional trades ranging from construction to welding to plumbing, “jobs that typically parents don’t sit down with their kids and say, ‘Look, if all goes well, this is what you are going to do.’”

This topic has been on my mind a lot lately, especially as I seek ways to help my homeschooling son set smart goals. I am a college graduate, and would never have considered any other option for my child…until now. Last year I married a man whose profession is in construction. He’s a highly skilled technician, definitely an artisan, and a master mason in the eyes of his co-workers. When the economy tanked a few years ago, his skills did not. True, he had to move to another state to find work, but he never lost his home or went into debt.

There are some skills that will always be in demand, such as my husband's field of masonry. Working as an assistant is also an excellent job for a teenager, allowing them to discover if they have what it takes for a physically demanding job, or if they need to get more serious about their studies to pursue an indoor career.

There are some skills that will always be in demand, such as my husband’s field of masonry. Working as an assistant is also an excellent job for a teenager, allowing them to discover if they have what it takes for a physically demanding job, or if they need to get more serious about their studies in order to pursue a less labor-intensive career or at least one that is indoors.

What if I can find a lawyer to prepare a will, but there is no plumber to fix my toilet? I’m so grateful throughout the year for the expertise of nurses and accountants and veterinarians, but admittedly I’m grateful every single day for whoever constructed the roof over my head. Daily I become more appreciative of the world outside the ivory tower, while still maintaining respect and admiration for the world within.

My son, in more-or-less-5th-grade, has shown himself to be very bright and quite philosophical in nature, but so far his approach to academics is obligatory, and certainly not fervent. Yes, he’s young so all that could change, but for now it has opened my mind to the possibility that striving only for college could be a disservice — to him and to many of our kids. I believe that there are kids who find a goal in higher education early on, and shoot toward it; but, there are many who may flounder in college, not because they aren’t “smart,” but because they were pushed there when they’d really rather be doing something with their hands, something concrete that provides visible reward.

“Paul, the great apostle to the Gentiles, learned the trade of a tent-maker. There were higher and lower branches of tent-making. Paul had learned the higher branches, and he could also work at the common branches when circumstances demanded….While working at his trade he gave an example in diligence and thoroughness. He was ‘diligent in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.’” (E.G. White, Australasian Union Conference Record, 12/1/1899)

I remember oh-so-many years ago when I was in academy, and all our Adventist boarding schools taught shop and home economics and business skills; daily work was a requirement of being there; and teens were prepared to graduate with both a diploma and other choices. Kids who wanted a career requiring a degree went off to college. Those who wanted a skilled job or to own their own business already had a bit of groundwork laid.

Micah's Pathfinder club was the first to pilot the new Blacksmithing Honor. I'm grateful for even such small introductions to skill-based possibilities. Learning to work with his hands will allow him to take on greater job challenges in his teens with confidence.

Micah’s Pathfinder club was the first to pilot the new Blacksmithing Honor. I’m grateful for even such small introductions as this to skill-based possibilities. Learning to work with his hands will allow him to take on greater job challenges in his teens with confidence.

As a homeschooling family, I want those same options for my child. I want his academics to be such that he can pursue a four-year degree if that is his goal. However, I also want him to be comfortable with the thought of attending a junior college if that better suits his needs; the very necessary world of technology can often be entered via tech school, a two-year college degree, or course-by-course licensure. And, ideally, I’d like him to learn a hands-on skill — maybe his stepdad’s, maybe some other — whether he plans to make a career of it, or has it to fall back on in times of job-cutting.

What are your thoughts on this? I’m very interested in what vocational skills you may be making available to your child, and what kind of career paths you are encouraging them to pursue.

“Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands.… Then people who are not believers will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others,” 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 NLT.