When is the right age for your kid to get a part-time job?

When is the right age for your kid to get a part-time job?

The second of our biweekly Poll the Parents surveys got you, um, all worked up.

The question was: “When is the right age for your kid to get a part-time job?”

A) 9th or 10th grade

B) 11th or 12th grade

C) College

D) Not until they graduate

The majority of you were almost evenly split between A and B. Should kids join the working world when they start high school, or only once they’re closer to graduation? The truth is, either philosophy is just fine. Everything you guys said is true about the positive effects of working in high school—it gives kids an insight into the value of money and real world experience that they won’t get at home. But don’t let your kid toil more than 15 hours a week. High schoolers who work more than that are less likely, on average, to attend college.

A vocal few of you said kids should postpone the part-time job until their education is complete. One response in particular was particularly wise:

“Their job is school, extracurriculars, and community service,” wrote Verena from Cedarburg, Wisconsin. “Those got my 3 kids into college with practically a free ride. Give up the money now for things they do not really need, and the payoff is scholarships and grants. In high school, my kids had to share one old junker car. Just because the money is not in hand now does not mean what you are doing in school has no payoff.”

It’s absolutely true that school is your high schooler’s main job. And there’s something to be said for limiting your kids’ paying work for a bigger payoff when they apply to college. Unless your family counts on the added income, it’s better to limit a high schooler to summer work. The academic—and extracurricular—burdens are too great and the stakes too high for kids at this age. A Bureau of Labor Statistics study bears this out: High school students spend almost an hour less on homework on the days they work.

As for those of you who suggest waiting until college for part-time work, there’s evidence that students with on-campus jobs actually get better grades. Why? They feel more connected to the institution, to their community of fellow students—and these ties show in their GPAs.

The discussion on Facebook was lively to say the least. Keep the comments coming!

Funniest comment: “When their ‘wants’ outweigh my means.”

Awwww: “I put together a ‘baby-sitting club’ with my neighborhood friends and started summer nannying and baby-sitting by the 7th grade.”

jobs kids and money teens working

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