Parenting-wise, the tween years -- ages 9 to 12, give or take -- are not the easiest to navigate. Are they little kids, or are they teenagers? Are they too young for independence, or ready for responsibility? And just how long can you stomach the phrase, "I'm bored"?
The fact is, some structured responsibility for a preteen is a good thing, and an after-school job, paying or not, can have all sorts of positive effects on someone who's somewhere between sitting in your lap and borrowing your car. After all, tweens are on the verge of navigating life with a certain degree of independence, and how much can they learn from texting between the hours of 3 and 6?
Here, some after-school jobs that preteens may be ready, able and willing to take on, both paying and nonpaying. We'll begin with the ones that involve cash-earning potential, so your tween can see a movie every weekend with his or her friends without raiding your wallet.
Tween Jobs That Pay in Money
Pulling a $20 out for your tween's weekend plans might hurt a bit more than usual these days, so it's as good a time as any for your little angel to learn the value of money, not to mention time management, reliability, self-reliance, work ethic and other invaluable life skills an adult needs to succeed.
A paying after-school job may seem far off when your child is just 10 or 11 years old, but labor laws don't prevent him or her from earning some cash by helping out around the neighborhood. There are a bunch of options, including:
- Babysitting (make sure your tween is ready for the responsibility!)
- Lawn care (mowing, raking, weeding)
- Pet care (washing, walking, litter-box cleaning)
- House cleaning (vacuuming, dusting, first-floor window washing)
- Car washing (right in the neighbor's driveway)
- Snow shoveling (seasonal labor, of course)
You can post flyers, talk with neighbors or do some direct marketing (a note in mailboxes, perhaps) to drum up some gigs. As much as possible, vet each employer and environment beforehand to make sure the job is up to your safety standards. Then sit back and watch your tween make some money while staying out of trouble and gaining the confidence that comes with a job (hopefully) well done.
Smart spending is an excellent lesson to learn early, but there are others. If money is not a primary issue, you might want to look into options that teach another highly valuable trait: service-mindedness.
Tween Jobs That Pay in Experience
Earning some money is a great reason to work. Doing some real good is, perhaps, an even better one. And before your child enters the more self-centered teen years, now is an ideal time to introduce the value of community service.
Plus, it takes less legwork to get your tween a volunteer job than it does to land a paying one, and it's just as effective in eliminating boredom and teaching responsibility.
A few volunteer options for your burgeoning do-gooder include:
- Volunteer at an animal shelter
- Read to elderly patients in a nursing home
- Read to young patients in a hospital
- Participate in church-, synagogue- or mosque-sponsored volunteer work
Another nonpaying but very valuable experience is an internship with a known adult in a field your child shows interest in. That type of gig is harder to come by, but you never know -- your neighbor who's a publisher may be looking for someone to chime in on proposed kids' book ideas a couple of afternoons a week.
For more information on keeping your tween busy and productive between the hours of 3 and 6, look over the links on the next page.
More Great Links
- Frasier, Tiffany. "Help Your Teen Get a Summer Job." Scholastic. June 27, 2007. (Dec. 7, 2010)http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=3746706
- Marmarou, Kaitlyn. "Is Your Preteen Ready to Babysit?" TweenParent.com. (Dec. 7, 2010)http://www.tweenparent.com/articles/view/138
- Scott, Megan K. "Summertime Blues: Teen, tween parents work to ward off summer boredom." Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. May 31, 2009. (Dec. 7, 2010)http://lubbockonline.com/stories/053109/fea_445529806.shtml