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Learning and Earning: How Teens Can Banish Summer Boredom

Summer jobs can help high schoolers ease the transition from carefree childhood to the responsibilities of adulthood while teaching important life lessons.

Don Milne Jun 13, 2018

Summer is upon us. If you have a high schooler in your home, she or he suddenly has an extra 30-40 hours a week since school is out. What should they do with all that time?

Few adults get to take time off for the summer. They are working 40 hours or more a week. Meanwhile, the preteen set can’t legally do any work of significance — their summers are as carefree as, well, summer.

Teens are stuck in the middle — transitioning from carefree childhood to adulthood with childcare. Some teens are motivated to take on more grownup challenges and are excited about finding a summer job that keeps them busy working 40 hours a day.

This is a big plus for their future. Future employers like seeing a potential employee who has a track record and experience of work-filled summers. And of course, a full-time job earns a teen twice as much as a 20-hour-a-week job.

At the other extreme is the teen who wants to use the full summer avoiding work. Yes, there are eSports millionaires who have struck it rich playing video games, but for every one of them, there are millions who are on a path to living in their parents’ basement for the next decade. Best to make eSports something to do after work, not instead of work.

Instilling Life Lessons

Parents can encourage their teens to learn the many lessons that come from working such as:

  • Saving: What should a teen do with the money they earn? They can save for college or even open a Roth IRA that could start them on the road to retiring as a millionaire (50+ years of compound interest is amazing).
  • Doing for others: Work should not always require payment. Helping around the house is an important role to play in the household, plus providing service to others such as helping a retired neighbor weed a garden is a character building use of time.
  • Learning is earning: Why not use summer time to further education? The more a teen learns, the better he or she is prepared to find a job that pays more than minimum wage.

Many schools have summer classes for students. There are also free online classes offered by major universities that should be within the skill level of a teen with an interest in the subject. Libraries are a great summer resource, and librarians can provide teens with suggestions for books that will make for a summer well spent. 

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