Many parents ponder whether it’s a good idea for their children to work during their school years. Although there’s no definitive answer, this article discusses some of the advantages and disadvantages of casual and part-time work during school years. Remember that each child’s suitability for work is different, so it’s best to sit down with your child and discuss their options and any guidelines you’d like to set before they begin applying for positions.
- They will develop life skills: Working will help your child to develop many important life skills, including time management, teamwork and work ethic. It will also provide them with valuable work experience that they can use to secure a new job when they leave school. Even if they only work one day per week on the weekend, work will also provide them with an opportunity to develop greater independence. This includes making their own way to and from work (if appropriate) and dealing with the consequences of any issues that arise at work, such as arriving late or making a mistake on the job.
- It will teach them about the value of money: Most teenagers begin work in order to earn a disposable income for extras such as clothing and social outings. Once your child is paying for these items, they will quickly see the value of money and how even the smallest purchases can very quickly add up. They will also be able to begin working towards a savings goal — whether this is a new gaming console, laptop or even a car. If your child already has a bank account, check to see if their bank offers a special high-interest savings account that can be linked to their main account.
- It can provide a welcome relief from study: Although many parents are wary of their children working in their senior secondary years, the reality is that having a part-time or casual job can actually provide your child with a much-needed break from their studies as well as a new friendship group outside of school. If you are worried about the effect of work on your child’s studies, suggest that they limit their working hours to just one shift per week.
- It can be detrimental to their studies: Depending on how well your child is able to manage their schedule, holding down a part-time or casual job can have a negative effect on their schoolwork. If you are worried, consider making an agreement with your child that they will maintain a certain average mark across their subjects if they want to continue working. Another option is to restrict work to holiday positions (such as ‘Christmas casual’ roles, which are popular in the retail and hospitality industries during the busy summer period) or to consider occasional work such as babysitting or dog-walking.
- It can eat up their free time: This is particularly the case in the senior school years, when much of your child’s out-of-school time will be dedicated to study or completing assessments.Combined with extracurricular activities, they may be left with very little free time for relaxation. If your child already has a busy schedule, they may wish to reconsider working or restricting the number of hours they work each week.
- It can cause them become disillusioned with work (or study): If your child has a negative experience at work, whether this is due to an issue with their employer, fellow staff or employment conditions, they may develop negative feelings about working life. Most employers of school-aged children have very strict regulations, so this shouldn’t be too much of a cause for concern. That being said, if your child has a bad experience or feels that they are being mistreated, it is important that they speak to you and, if necessary, lodge a complaint. On the other hand, your child may enjoy work so much that they become disillusioned with school or the idea of completing further study after school. If you are concerned, it might help to set up a meeting with their careers counsellor to discuss their post-school options and set some goals.