Do you try to talk with your child and they just stare blankly? You ask, “What did you do today?” Response: “Nothing exciting.” You inquire, “What did you learn?” Response: “Nothing important.”
Patience is always called for in these moments because, unlike adults, who are always reviewing past conversations or planning future events, children live in the moment and what happened that morning is irrelevant to them. However, regardless of how different a teen’s world is from an adult’s, your child’s future depends on past performances.
A good record of these events is a resume. Be the facilitator, and allow your children to chronicle this information. Teach them to list items from most recent to oldest, to update their lists quarterly, and to remove the older entries as students gain experience. They will learn valuable life skills from this experience, and as adults, they will have a current resume when needed.
Education- Rather than listing schools and completion, your child will be recording subjects and grades. This process reminds students to do their best and to take ownership of their education. They regularly can see their progress, recorded by their own hand, rather than on a report card that someone else imposes upon them.
It also reminds them to work towards the next step, that education is a progressive life-long endeavor and not just a forced activity from 8 to 3, Monday through Friday, August to May!
In addition, dual enrollment courses, AP classes, and entrance tests can be emphasized.
Employment- Even if your children are not currently employed, they should still record any opportunities in which they have earned money outside the home. This technique familiarizes them with the format of a resume. They begin to identify the value of work and to recognize skill sets they are developing.
Skills- Throughout daily life, students acquire desirable skills, which they may not identify as employable traits. Examples include, but are not limited to: Technology (typing, spreadsheets, data processing), Communication (letter writing, dictation, public speaking, social media posting), and Research (knowledge of cataloguing systems, use of scholarly web resources). Of course, students should add details, and online resumes can provide professional examples.
Volunteerism- Students volunteer more than they think, and employers, colleges, and those granting scholarships often evaluate prospects by their service records. Recording these opportunities not only instills an awareness of the many needs in our communities, but it also creates a strong desire to continue contributing.
Experiences- Activities, clubs, travels, and individual interests reflect the values and different personalities of students. College admission boards are particularly interested in how well-rounded applicants are and what benefits they will bring to the student body. Students should itemize all club memberships, leadership positions, and awards. Keeping an updated list will help them remember events as well as how these activities have impacted their lives.
Addendum- Students should also create three additional files within their resume folder:
- Writing Samples. A current portfolio of essays, poetry, and research papers will demonstrate improvement and quickly provide samples when requested by colleges.
- Book Lists. Occasionally, colleges (and even employers) will ask students about their most recently read books. Keeping an updated list of titles and authors enables students to appreciate the amount they have read, recognize value in different types of books, and recall quickly any that may have impressed them.
- Letters of Recommendation. Oftentimes, student work is temporary, but children wait to ask for a letter of recommendation until one is requested by a prospective employer, college, or scholarship provider. Don’t wait! Teachers and employers who recognize excellence, grateful neighbors, or appreciative church leaders are all more than willing to write complimentary evaluations upon request.
Whew! That’s a lot of information, isn’t it? Your children will think so too, but if you start early enough, they will view the project with anticipation and respect. After all, they are launching into their adulthood with knowledge of what will be required of them and what is valued by our society: a servant’s heart and a strong work ethic.