22 February 2014

Preparing for the future - but not by doing year 12

Training on the job
When we first started homeschooling over 17 years ago, among all the questions was: "What will you do about year 12 and University?"
At the time we simply answered, "We will cross that bridge when we get to it." and "We just do one year at a time and see how it goes." which deferred the problem until a future time.

We have been quiet on Bruggietales for the last few years because we have been working on the answer to that concern from complete strangers about the welfare of our children.
My theory was that children have the capacity for much more but are rarely given the chance. In the age of sail 15 year olds were lieutenants in the army and navy and were working in responsible positions throughout the economy.  Why not ours?
So we bought a shop.  It is a country store which sells everything as well as being the local Post Office agency and we added in a cafe and restaurant. We then put Ariel (then 17 years old) in charge. My business is integrating business systems so I was initially heavily involved setting up systems and working how the store should run, liaising with suppliers and generally training Ariel how it all worked.  As each child got older, they were added to the employee pool.
The children were also paid award wages and conditions and everything was run as a professional business. In this way they were able to learn not only business skills but also personal money skills.
Perhaps a bit young, but he volunteered.
However, in this world that suffers from credentialism - that is, the requirement that a bit of paper means much more than mere experience - this was insufficient to answer that question from so long ago.
So we utilised the traineeship/apprenticeship schemes in place to foster staff training.  We signed up each of the young people who worked for us full time - both our children and other young people who we employed - into a Level III certificate in Retail Management.  This is equivalent to a TAFE (like a US community college) course.  Not only did this provide the young people with a framework within which all the experience they were getting made sense as part of the greater business structure, it also counted as a study pre-requisite for University enrolment.
Normally children complete a gruelling and stressful year 11 and 12 (called the HSC - Higher School Certificate) which then gives them a score which can be used to get into the standard entry stream of University enrolments. But you can also enter University showing prior studies and this works just as well.  And as the Level III certificate counts as tertiary studies, you're in.  Of course, this depends on the degree the young person wishes to study, but the principle is sound.
I volunteered for my birthday
When Eric was 17 he applied and was accepted to the online open university and they accepted his qualifications.  He worked out that a University degree wasn't for him, but we proved that the Certificate III was sufficient for him to enrol.
Through our store we have now provided two of our children and three other young employees with Level III certificates.  Ariel actually completed a level IV certificate and Diploma in Business management.
Even though the business is basically break even - and a loss in the early years - the net cost was less than school fees for year 11 and 12 and TAFE fees.  And the children earned full time wages.
So now when we are asked what we will do for HSC and qualifying for University we can answer, "We'll buy a business."


Karen said...

What a fabulous system you have worked out. Our children have the opportunity to work with their dad ocassionally (he is a self-employeed electrician) and the benefits are far more than merely learning about installing switches and recepticles.

Many blessings for you and yours

annette @ A Net In Time said...

what an excellent idea. Great thinking outside the box. :)