As parents, we want our teens to learn responsibility, work hard and earn money. The same line of thinking can make many teens eager to get their first job. According to Statistics Canada, approximately 46% of Canadians ages 15 to 19 have jobs. But is an after-school job actually a good idea?
[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]working during the school year can have many positive benefits.[/pullquote]
On one hand, it may sound risky. An after-school job can leave your teen with less time for volunteering, extra-curricular activities, socializing and of course, doing their homework. Without sufficient skills to organize and prioritize, your teen might end up being pulled in too many directions, stressed out, tired or left with too little time to focus on getting good grades. At the end of the day, isn’t getting into a good university or college program their most important job?
A recent study by researchers at the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia were intrigued by this dilemma. The researchers analyzed information from the Youth in Transition Survey by Statistics Canada to determine whether, in fact, teenage employment is bad. They looked at responses from nearly 250,000 young Canadians at various points as they grew up. They determined that working during the school year can have many positive benefits.
The researchers found that teens who worked between 25 to 31 hours during the school year experienced many advantages. For instance, the more hours a teen worked at age 15, the more likely they were to be working at age 21. In addition, teens who worked at 15 were more likely to earn more as they got older. Analysts found that 15-year-olds who worked 33 hours a week during the school year earned 25 percent more at age 23. Teens who worked too many hours, however, could experience negative effects.
It can be surmised that having to juggle the competing demands of school and work as teenagers teaches teens how to balance these demands later on. Additional responsibility helps them become more prepared, organized and adept at time management as they get older. Plus, the head start they have in terms of building their resume and networking can give them a leg up over teens who didn’t work during high school.
The Sauder School study also found that teens who worked during high school had better suited careers than those who didn’t work. Whether a teen worked for a family business or an external employer, they were more likely to have better-fitting jobs in the long term. That’s likely because working teaches teens from an early age what they do and don’t want to do in future. They are exposed to different work environments and management styles, helping them narrow down what sorts of occupations they want in future. Teens who don’t work in high school might end up having to discover these same lessons when they are already in the workforce.
There are still many unanswered questions and there’s no right answer. The study couldn’t determine the long-term consequence of teenage employment on future work patterns. For instance, are those who worked as teens happier than those who didn’t? Do they have lower divorce rates and a healthier family life as a result? In other words, working as a teen might not put you further ahead or guarantee a better life as an adult.
When deciding whether to let your teen work, there is a lot to consider. Do they want to work or are you pushing them in that direction? Are they learning responsibility and discipline from volunteering or extra-curricular commitments? Do they have a demanding academic schedule? Are they already struggling to balance coursework with teenage life and succeed academically? These are things you’ll want to consider, in addition to the research.
Indeed, parenting attitudes are changing, school is being seen as a teenager’s “job” and, in fact, fewer teens are working now than in previous years. It’s an individual decision, and one that only you and your teen can make. Now that you have some additional information at your fingertips, you are better equipped to have this all-important discussion with your teen.
Echo Editor November 30th, 2017
There is much debate in the education community surrounding school uniform policies. Are uniforms a great way to improve focus, level the socioeconomic playing field and create a sense of school citizenship, or are they an expensive way to curb students’ creativity and diminish their sense of individuality?
Of course, there are arguments to be made on both sides. Those who do not support policies requiring students to wear certain colours or specific pants, skirts and tops often site the expense. Indeed, uniforms can appear expensive as parents may be required to purchase a year’s worth of clothes at once. Others point to uniformity as a way to diminish a student’s individuality. How can a child express themselves in a creative way if their wardrobe choices are limited to the same outfit as their peers?
[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] clothes can’t serve as a distraction[/pullquote]
Proponents of uniforms find the pros outweigh the cons. Of course, there are safety arguments. If everyone in the student body is dressed the same, it’s easy to identify intruders and know who belongs to the student body.
Others in support of uniforms have found that implementing a uniform policy can reduce theft. Since uniforms have an equalizing factor, students aren’t permitted to come to school wearing labels or flashy clothes. There is less competition, peer pressure or a sense of wanting clothing items their more privileged peers are wearing. In this way, uniforms reduce or even eradicate theft as there is no advantage to stealing. In some schools, the use of uniforms even reduces violence, as groups or gangs can no longer identify themselves by wearing certain clothes or colours.
Uniforms can even improve a student’s grades. Since there is no need to keep up with the latest fashions, clothes can’t serve as a distraction, which enables students to focus on learning. Nobody can show too much skin, inappropriately expose their bodies or make clothing choices in an attempt to attract attention. Rather, students are in a better position to concentrate on their studies and build relationships with one another based on substance.
Practically speaking, many parents find it’s easier to dress their children in the morning when their child is required to wear a uniform. There is no delay as children debate what to wear—something that can often be a time-consuming process, especially as students mature into teenagers. There are no arguments about what constitutes an appropriate outfit as items such as spaghetti straps, torn jeans and short skirts aren’t options.
Thanks to social media, it’s easy for parents to connect to find solutions to address the cost of uniforms. For instance, online message boards and community groups can be used to arrange clothing exchanges. This means that bigger ticket items such as blazers can be handed down from one student who outgrew it to another who needs it. Parents can save money by buying these clothing pieces second-hand, rather than buying new. Parents have also been known to voice their opinions with respect to selecting lower cost uniform suppliers. In some cases, they have banded together to request suppliers who meet certain ethical or environmental standards.
Some schools, in turn, are adapting uniform policies to include plain white button-down shirts or navy blue pants, for example. These kinds of clothing pieces can be purchased at retail stores like The Gap or Old Navy, some of which have uniform sections in their stores and online. These clothes can be easily purchased at affordable prices throughout the year and be worn year-round.
Uniforms are an important piece of the education puzzle and one that can contribute to enhanced learning and discussion.
Echo Editor November 21st, 2017