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Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years

Chaotic Bliss Homeschooling

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Algebra: What's the Point? Tags: problem with algebra

Out of all the subjects you’re required to take in school, Algebra has to be the most pointless.

You spend the first 8 years of school learning basic arithmetic that you’re going to need to know and use for the rest of your life. Things like addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and financial math are principles that you will need no matter what job you have when you graduate. So wouldn’t it make sense, that when you get to the high school years that you would be able to focus on one type of math that you’re good at? Or to expand your knowledge on a math that has something to do with the career path you’re looking in to?

True, in high school you don’t always necessarily know what exact job you’ll be doing in the future. But you do know what you like and don’t like, and what you can and can’t do. For instance, I know I’m never going to be some kind of genius scientist that re-invents computers or goes into the rainforest looking for a new species of frog. I’m not going to be a physicist nor am I the least interested in Einstein’s theory of relativity. I am one-hundred percent sure that I will not do those things because one: I don’t like math and science. And two: I’m not good at math or science.

I’d rather spend the 2 years of Algebra that I have to take studying financial math: something I’m good at and something that will have practical applications in my life. Because, really…unless you’re trying to make a scientific breakthrough, when will you use Algebra in your daily life?

Oh right…you need to be able to set up an equation just in case a 300 pound man and a 100 pound girl jump off a building at the same time and you have to solve to see who’s going to drop faster. Yeah, that’s a heck of a lot more practical than learning about taxes and bills and how you’re going to have to manage your finances as an adult. Because once you leave home and have to take care of yourself, I’m pretty sure all that Algebra crap is going to completely leave your mind and you’re going to be studying like crazy to figure out how to balance a checkbook.  

High school is the time of your life where you have to get ready for the real world and some responsibility, since adulthood is not far off. So why should kids be forced to waste their time on a subject they will probably never use again? Then by the time we graduate high school, what real experience with anything practical will we have? We should be allowed to instead spend this time getting prepared for our futures, and if you like Algebra and you plan on going into a field that requires it, go ahead and study it.

Unfortunately, it is the way it is and there’s not much us kids can do about except pass our Algebra and also find some time for the real-life stuff. After all that, we might graduate high school with no practical knowledge at all! But hey! We’ll be able to calculate whether the fat man or the skinny girl is going to hit the ground first. That has to count for something, right? 


Teen Entrepreneurs Tags: cool

With many adults today facing unemployment themselves, it’s no wonder that many teens, sometimes competing for the same jobs, have been unable to find work. According to, the number of teens able to get jobs has been decreasing steadily. In April 2009, 38.1% of teens ages 16-19 were in the labor force, whereas 41% percent were employed at the same time the previous year. This downward trend in employment opportunities has continued as more adults have lost jobs this year.

 As a result, many teens have been looking beyond conventional employment, and have decided to challenge themselves, gain valuable work experience, and hopefully make some money by starting their own businesses.

Teens starting their own businesses is not a new idea. Most of us have heard Mark Zuckerberg’s story. He’s the guy that created Facebook, and designed his website from his college dorm room. He was just another college teen who is now the youngest billionaire in the world.

And what about Fred de Luca? He was seventeen when he borrowed $1000 dollars to open a sub shop to help pay for college. He says he didn’t have the time to work on someone else’s schedule.  Today, his Subway restaurant chain makes over 9 billion dollars every year.

True, most teens will not become billionaires by starting a local business, but some say that the benefits are more than just money.

“I decided to start selling my things because I needed a job, and this was something I could do at home,” says Savannah Patterson, a home schooler from Hickory, who started up her own knitting business, Knot Kreative.  “There are not a lot of job opportunities for us nowadays, so it's great that we can make our own.”

Savannah began the process of starting up her business by coming up with a name, ordering business cards, and creating a website.  When she first started up, business wasn’t so good. “I tried selling things at the used book fair, but that was a flop!” She didn’t give up or get too disappointed, though. She simply reevaluated her selling techniques and took a different approach. “I decided that my best bet was to send out emails advertising what I am selling.” She improved her website’s search and ordering capabilities, which has made finding and ordering products easier for potential customers. Since the changes, sales have risen and people are inquiring more about things like scarves for gifts.

Enterprising teens like Savannah explain that, while owning your own business does give you more control over your work schedule, that doesn’t mean you can be lazy or slack off.Savannah says she has to put aside time to knit the things that are ordered, advertise her products, and improve and update her website to make it look more professional.  “When you work for yourself, you decide what hours you work, but this also requires self motivation.  Because you don't have a boss nagging you all the time, you have to be dedicated to getting things done.  But it's also a lot easier to get permission to get off work to go somewhere!”

Savannah offered some advice to other kids hoping to start up their own business.

“Starting a business is not easy, but it's worth it,” she says. “You have to be prepared to work for it! My second piece of advice is to do something that you enjoy! There's certainly no reason to be forcing yourself to do something you don't like to do!”

Everett Wickham would most likely agree.  Another teen from the Hickory area, Everett has been preparing to launch his business, Tech Trainer, in January 2011. The business will provide technology lessons for computers, mp3 players, digital cameras, and other electronic devices.  Everett says that starting his own business has been something he’s always been interested in. “This year, my dad approached me about giving lessons to people at one of our Cartridge World stores, a new location that’s opening this winter. I have been giving lessons to friends and family for a few years, and I am excited to expand to the general public.”

One of the first tasks Everett had to do to startup his business was to create a promotional website and order business cards.  “I also need to purchase a sign, furniture, and technology equipment that I will use to give my lessons.” When Tech Trainer opens, Everett says he expects to be answering calls and emails on a regular basis and will have to keep track of finances and work on promoting his business to the community.

Like Savannah, Everett agrees that working for yourself has many benefits. “You control your hours. You control how much you make. No one can lay you off. Also, starting a business really helps you to become independent and ready for your future life as an adult. Additionally, you learn to take initiative and provide for yourself.”

Many teens today seem discouraged by the lack of work, and may think that starting a business for themselves would be too hard. But Everett thinks it’s important to encourage kids that have an interest to pursue it.  “Go for it! Make sure there is a market for your business in your community, and remember, ‘The customer is always right.’ It is challenging, but if you stick to it, you will be rewarded.”

You can contact Savannah through her website, She offers hand knitted gifts either premade or to order.

You can contact Everett by phone: (828) 619-0044 or Email: You can also find out more about his products at He offers technology lessons for things such as computers, mp3 players (iPods), printers, digital cameras, and cell phones available starting January 3rd. $17 for a 30 minute lesson, or $29 per hour.





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