Parents still heavily debate whether kids should work during school, with some people thinking that the experience and financial improvements gained from the work is worth the slight dip in grades that might happen. In the summer, kids no longer have to worry about balancing school a job, so summer jobs can make sense even for kids who can’t or don’t want to work during the school year. These brief periods of employment are invaluable for several big reasons.
- Exposure to “adult” financial concepts. Some financial areas, such as the different values of coins and how to save and set goals, are very basic. By the time your child is old enough to have a summer job, he should already be familiar with these concepts. A summer job lets your kid build on what he knows about money, introducing more “adult” financial ideas and practices, such as tax withholding and employee benefits.
- Ability to pay his own way. When your child doesn’t have a regular job, he is almost entirely dependent on you for the money he has for…well, anything. This means your relationship stays dominant-subservient. Summer employment lets your child cover some of his own costs. This not only relieves the financial tension on you, but also lets your child feel free and develop the confidence that he can provide for himself.
- Responsibility development. You’ve probably been trying to teach your child to be responsible since he first ate mush from a spoon, but kids naturally will question their parents and resist their rules to varying extents. Your child will hear ideas such as “Be nice to customers [others],” “Finish your job [what you start],” and much more as his boss gives him directions, assigns him to teams, and reviews his work. This can help your overall message of responsibility finally click and let your child see that you haven’t just been spewing nonsense all these years.
- Gain of experience. Much has been written about how jobs teach kids industry skills in a hands-on environment—this is accurate. Even so, kids also gain what are known as soft skills, which include things like listening and being patient. These are the heart of business etiquette. These are just as valuable as hard skills, if not more so, because your child can apply them in just about any industry, as well as in his regular home and social life.
- References. Assuming things go well at the job, your child might be able to use his summer job employer as a reference for future positions. These aren’t the only use for the references he gets, however—colleges and universities are looking to work experience just as they are volunteering and extracurricular activities as they complete their admissions processes.
- Avoidance of trouble. As it turns out, there might be some truth in the old saying that “idle hands are the Devil’s playground.” With more hours spent at a job, your child won’t have as much time to get into mischief or hang around with kids or other people who might be a bad influence.
Of course, all these benefits don’t negate the fact that your child still has to figure out things like transportation, and safety is always a priority. There’s also the fact that your child might not even know what kind of job he’d enjoy. But these are things you can discuss and make arrangements for – just consider them part of the learning process and have fun!