Friday, April 30, 2010

Brandon's Bio and Reports Reveal One Talented and Busy Teen

Brandon, a 17-year-old  senior in New York, was homeschooled his whole life. He starts of his educational biography this way:

"Let me tell you, being homeschooled is by far the best gift one can be given when it comes to their education. While most kids sit in classrooms doing (or pretending to do) work, most of which will prove inconsequential in their adult life, the homeschooled child gets to experience hands-on learning based on their interests and educational needs. While most kids are only half way through the school day, the homeschooled child finishes early to go off for a trip with other homeschooled kids.

    "This is precisely the gift I’ve been given, and I’m thankful for every bit of it. For as far back as I can remember, my learning has been a family affair. In the early days I would sit down with my mother and she’d work with me to make sure I understood each subject. She’d make special tools to help me with math, and often my father would help me through the tougher problems. I believe his explanations could very well be the only reason I understood it at all. The same is true for just about every subject; I owe my great understanding of many things to their dedication.

    "When it comes to my textbook learning, I’ve become a lot more independent, taking care of most of the work without any help at all. I no longer sit at the counter with my parents to do my work, but just knowing that they are still there if I need their help is a huge comfort. Now, however, my parents are playing a huge role in my real-world education. Much more significant than anything you’ll learn in a book,  my mother has taught me life skills like cooking, cleaning, organizing, scheduling, and so on. Many people who are very ‘book smart’ don’t make it far in life because they lack basic life skills like these."

Brandon goes on to talk about his interests in electricity and computers. He started building websites, eventually turning it into a neighborhood business. Later he got into podcasting and started his own show. Then he started a web design business. When the iPhone came out, he created a movie showtime application for it, which is widely used today by iPhone users: "GoMovies". Brandon is now in the advertising design business with a partner and they run a firm called Ipsum Creative.

Since November of 2009, Brandon has learned to drive, bought a car, and started a restaurant job in addition to doing his design business and academics. He has been learning time managment skills, to say the least - sometimes the hard way! Here's how he summarizes it:

"This is a constant struggle for me: figuring out what’s most important in life. It can often be more difficult than one might think. Beyond that, trying to find places to squeeze in the things you want to do among those that you need to do is a challenge. I devised a system by the end of the month. Basically, I found that I need to list everything I need to do, prioritize it, and try to eliminate some things from the bottom of the list. This way I always have a concise list of my priorities in my head."

Come March, Brandon's report shows another aspect of his learning. Read on!

"March was a month of hard work for me. As I continued with my job and other duties, I learned to perfect many of my skills and to balance my efforts even more effectively. I was working five nights a week and loved making the extra money. I was also helping a friend remodel their kitchen on the side, teaching me a lot about various types of work.

    "This job was proving to be quite educational. First off, I was starting to really observe a lot about the inner workings of the restaurant, and ask questions. I wanted to learn about the industry, as it was one I was always interested in. I watched the chefs prepare dishes, I noticed how the managers handled various situations, and I really started to absorb everything that went on around me while I was doing my job. I was actually inspired to reconsider being a chef, something that had always been a possibility for me. This thought had been developing since I started working there, but by now I was really tempted. It seemed like the chefs had such a great time and I could imagine nothing better than cooking for a living.

   " As for my remodeling work, my friend and I started off by painting. There were actually several rooms in the house that needed a fresh coat of paint, and we both had experience painting, so we got some rollers and off we went! In addition to walls, I learned about the process of painting cabinets, something that is much more involved. We had to remove all the cabinet doors, organize the hardware, and pretreat the wood. We used a product called a ‘de-glosser’ that etches the original finish of the wood, making the paint adhere better. We then got to work with our paint brushes, and a few days later the old 1960s cabinets looked as good as new (or better.) We reattached the doors, which in itself is a lesson in organization. It’s essential to label the doors, or else it’s difficult to tell which ones go where.

    "After the painting was finished, we moved on to the floor. We decided to lay down some tile. To start, we had to rip up the old linoleum. Since the floor was already falling apart, this took nothing more than a little elbow grease and the back end of a hammer. Once the subfloor was exposed and clean, we had to lay down backer board. We mixed up a bucket of adhesive, learning somewhere along the way that it is important to follow the mixing directions properly. Soon after, we put down the first board and screwed it in. Once we hit the first place where we couldn’t fit an entire board, I tapped into my math and geometry brain to measure and cut the boards to the appropriate shapes and sizes. Throughout the project this became my job, as I was quite good at it, even in complexly shaped spaces.

    "Once the backer board was down, we moved onto the tile. The measuring was once again my job. I marked each tile and my friend cut them on the wet saw. We did a ‘dry run’ before laying them down, and they fit together like a perfect little puzzle. Although I wasn’t around for the laying and grouting, I was still proud of my accomplishments in my first ever experience with flooring. I learned about how to work with each type of material and got to flex my brain a little with the measurement and marking. All-in-all it was a great experience that may come in handy some day if I ever want to lay my own floor.

    "While not the most exciting in my life, this month was full of learning that will be very useful in my later life. In fact, it may have even changed the career path I take. I’m still loving life, and looking forward to April!"

Brandon has one more report before he graduates. You may join me in looking forward to the final installment of his exciting homeschooling career!

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