A friend once said that her children would never be allowed to work during the school year because it was too difficult to get everyone where they needed to be once school began. I thought a lot about that as my children reached the age of employability.

When should we begin to train them to juggle the challenges of a job? Would we adversely affect their education in the process? Did the bonus of financial gain outweigh what they could learn about work at home?

These were great questions, but ones to which I had no answers. So we began to search.

Balancing Your Teen's Work and School - It CAN Be Done!

The Positives

We can all agree that work is good for children whether it’s chores or a job outside the home.

Work for pay teaches money management, responsibility, time management, and service to others. These skills are enhanced when an older student is required to balance a course load with employment.

With consistent income, students can build their emergency accounts, save for a goal, and better understand taxation.

Additionally, just because your student is working part time, doesn’t mean that he or she must work during the day. Nights, afternoons, or even Saturday shifts are great options, too.

The Negatives

Merriam-Webster defines work as the performance or carrying through of a task requiring sustained effort or continuous repeated operations.

Sustained effort…that’s a challenge! School is already an exercise in sustained effort, why would anyone want to add to that?

It’s true. Not only do students need to maintain good grades, but they must work hard to manage their work and class schedule while leaving time for responsibilities at home.

If they have worked through the summer or over a holiday and are considering whether or not to continue as their classes begin again, take time to discuss the following questions.

Is your student currently able to manage their existing school requirements?

Does your student have a desire to learn money management skills?

How does this affect the family as a whole? (Transportation, family activities, church, lessons)

What happens if grades begin to be affected?

The Balance

Let me encourage you by saying, it CAN be done.

Our children have all worked while going to school and have done so in a variety of ways. A couple have worked weekends at a local family entertainment center.

One worked a little every day for a woman down the street who had race horses. We currently have a child entering his junior year who is coaching gymnastics at various times during the week.

Only you and your student can determine what the balance is between work and their education. Maintain consistency and do not waiver on the agreed upon rules, and you’ll find that in many cases, the benefits will outweigh the challenges.

The requirements for our kids were all the same…continue to keep your studies and family responsibilities in check and you are allowed to work. Create a challenge for your education and the job must go.

I’m looking forward to a coffee date with our youngest next week to discuss his plans for the fall and our work/study balance.

And because he’s been given the opportunity to glean some financial wisdom, I bet he’ll buy.

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