One of our roles as a parent is to help our children develop the necessary skills to function well as an adult in today’s society. In raising children who are world changers, hubby and I are trying to become intentional in how our children learn these skills and what those skills are. We are also trying to be intentional with raising our children to impact the world for the better. Part of helping our children develop job-hunting skills (including the application and interview process) and managing work, study and a social lifestyle is helping them get experience in this area.
A number of parents are not too keen on their children getting ‘part-time’ jobs as they believe it will take away from their schoolwork and social life. Kids are busy already. Yes. But they also lead a pretty easy lifestyle. They have room to watch television, sleep in of a weekend, use social media, daydream or play computer games whilst completing homework.
Being home educated, our teenagers have more flexibility and freedom with their time than if they were attending ‘traditional’ schooling.
Research conducted in the United States nearly a decade ago showed that students who worked 10 hours per week achieved higher grades than those who didn’t.1 However, working 15-20 hours per week had the opposite effect and they received poorer grades. You may well conclude from that that 10 hours of work crammed into an already ‘full’ schedule helps students learn time management skills. More time working, though, can mean that work competes against study. Research also showed that 15-20 hours part time work can influence negatively their amount of sleep. Enough sleep is crucial for the development of a teenager’s brain plus their emotional and mental wellbeing.
Work teaches you many skills beyond time management – punctuality, reliability, grooming, responsibility, interpersonal communication, meeting expectations, following rules, having to complete tasks when you don’t feel like it, character building stuff, dealing with disgruntled customers, multitasking, using initiative, looking for jobs to help with e.g. cleaning. This all builds a young person’s resilience and confidence.
A negative for teenagers getting a part time job and earning money is the ‘freedom’ (and potential excess) their new buying power brings. Discussions about expectations, values and boundaries are necessary. This becomes a very important season in helping your teen to manage their finances and savings.
Budgeting skills learnt now (or beforehand) can save a lot of angst later. The value of money suddenly becomes
very real when you realise that you just worked 15 hours for this season’s latest fashion accessory – the Kathmandu puffer jacket on special.
It can also be seen as an important ‘rite of passage’ that is often forgotten about or overlooked. Suddenly they are cast into this world where they need to fix problems and address issues without their parents.
Our eldest child at 15 has just landed her first ‘real’ paid job (other than looking after neighbour’s pets etc) – McDonald’s. Brilliant training ground. Huge learning curve for us as parents and our daughter as an employee. Working has certainly challenged our teen in how she manages her time. Plus, the location is ten minutes from home, not on a bus route.
When our daughter filled out an online application, she listed the closest three McDonald’s venues as places she would like to work. Within an hour, one of those centres sent her notification that she had an interview scheduled for the next week. She was also notified that since that McDonald’s centre had contacted her first, the other two (which were on a bus route from our home) could not employ her whilst the first store was considering her. This was a newbie’s mistake as now transport to and from work could become an issue.
The interview process began with a group involving our daughter, three other applicants and the recruitment manager. Even before the formal interview began, two of the applicants had not followed the written email instructions on what to bring and when to arrive. The four teenagers were left on their own for ten minutes to see how they related with each other, who initiated conversation, who could keep a conversation flowing etc. When the manager ‘joined’ them, they had to share a couple of things about themselves. Then they had an almost impossible time limit to do an odd shaped Star Wars jigsaw puzzle as a group, an ideal activity to see leadership skills rising, ability to look at issues from various angles, working under pressure, creativity etc. Whilst the manager took aside each applicant to ask further questions and check their paperwork, the others were left with a giant Jenga puzzle. Each part of the interview was strategically thought out to assess various skills, initiative and relational ability.
Below I have listed some suggestions if you have a child considering their first job.
Before applying for a job:
Starting their first paid job:
Enjoy this new season in your teenager and your family’s life.
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