It’s time for that long stretch of summer vacation. Many teens and college age kids have already turned in their applications, had an interview, or are returning to a previous summer job. Or, they may be getting more hours and working full-time at that after-school job. However, there’s another group of kids who also need summer employment or engagement.
What about kids in the tweens group and younger teens who have not turned sixteen yet? What can they do to find money-making and volunteer opportunities? Believe it or not, tweens have a number of options for becoming entrepreneurs and starting their own independent business, working for a variety of companies, or volunteering.
The benefits of a summer job or summer volunteer opportunity for tweens are numerous. Summer jobs can teach kids responsibility and build their self-esteem. Kids of all ages can learn about time management from working a summer job or volunteer opportunity. Jobs are great for developing social skills and practice self-control. In addition, jobs or volunteer opportunities are a great way to learn about future career paths or college areas of study.
So, where you do help your tween child find out about paid or unpaid summer opportunities? Well, to start with, here are the pluses and minuses of paid work versus a volunteer opportunity.
Paid – Obviously, the big plus of a paid tween job is for the child to earn their own pocket money. However, on the minus side, many paid positions are not very flexible about time off for family vacations or hours the kids can work. Be sure to sit down with your tween and discuss the cost/benefit of taking on a summer job for someone else. Of course, if you have a little entrepreneur on your hands, then, depending on how much business the child can generate, you have the best of both worlds – pocket money and scheduling flexibility.
Volunteer – Volunteer opportunities offer many of the benefits being an entrepreneur does – only without the added value of earning money. Volunteering is a great way for kids to get new skills, develop empathy for others, and take on some new responsibilities. If your tween child is interested in animals or becoming a veterinarian, many animal shelters need cage cleaners and dog walkers regularly. As a parent, be sure to go with your child to learn about the volunteer opportunity and find out what exactly the child will be doing, who will be supervising, and how many hours per week or month are required.
Here are a few options for budding entrepreneurs:
• Pet Sitting – Summer is the time when many families will have an opportunity to take a vacation. A great option for tweens is to offer to feed fish, dogs, guinea pigs, or cats for interested neighbors, friends, and co-workers.
• Babysitting – While we hope no one has an experience like the one depicted in “Adventures in Babysitting,” this tried and true tween job can provide value to both the baby sitter and the children being watched. Babysitting is not just for girls, either. Any babysitter typically has some sort of first aid training, learns how to keep kids entertained and busy, is responsible, and gains empathy.
• Cleaning Houses – Typically, kids are a little bit reluctant to clean at home. However, when someone else is paying them to do it, it takes on a whole new level of interest. There may be an elderly neighbor who needs some help scrubbing the kitchen floor. Or, a working family may need someone to come in and dust and vacuum. There’s even an opportunity to provide niche cleaning like cleaning garages or organizing a toy room.
• Mowing Lawns – Again, an oldie but goodie. You may even consider allowing your teen or tween to use the family mower (as long as they are the ones paying for the gas) to mow neighborhood lawns. This is a great tween job as it can be done while folks are away at work. They may even want to expand their services offered to weeding yards, setting up lawn sprinklers, or helping in the garden. The good thing about this tween business is that it can even continue on into the Fall where the tween can rake leaves, bag them, and take them out for the trash collectors.
There are a number of excellent options for tweens to work during the summer. Not only does it provide some structure and valuable activities; a summer job can also enhance the pocketbook. Working or volunteering in the summer teaches kids many valuable skills. Not only will they feel validated and gain self-confidence; tweens are also learning valuable life-long skills like time management, how to empathize with others, and using their imagination and innovation to come up with meaningful work. By taking the time to help your tween find paid or voluntary opportunities, you are showing your kids that you care in a way that builds confidence and increases independence.