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Healthy and unhealthy reasons to work during high school

To help kids understand healthy and unhealthy reasons to work during high school and to help them make the experience a positive one.



  • Obtain index cards and pencils for each person (2 cards per person) in your group.
  • Prepare to divide them into small groups of 3 or 4.
  • Talk to 2 or 3 kids before the discussion to have them share their work experiences. Think about using them in your meeting.
  • Find out costs (i.e., tuition, books, room, and board) of local colleges.
  • Write out the "group discussion" questions on slips of paper.


  • As kids enter, give each a card and pencil. Ask them to write down the ideal job (career). Also have them describe the worst possible job. Ask them to add reasons for their responses.
  • Collect cards from the kids, read several to the group, and have them guess whose is being read.


Consider making a video showing your kids (or others) at work intermixed with shots of things that represent reasons for working (clothes, college, cars, other material things, boredom).


  • Divide kids into small groups (give them another index card).
  • Ask them to discuss the following questions:
    • If you work 20 hours a week, what are some things you will or might miss out on?
    • What are some advantages of working part-time?
  • Have them first discuss and then personally write answers to this question: On your journey to become a complete person, what qualities do you still need to develop, or what is your life lacking?


  • Bring the groups together; collect their cards.
  • Hear from the groups on advantages and disadvantages of employment.
  • Discuss the importance of taking advantage of the high school years to develop into the person they want to be.
    • Read a few of the cards (without names) concerning attributes they want to develop.
  • Challenge them to evaluate if employment during high school is worth the sacrifice.
    • Show them that what they can save for college may reduce financial aid they receive.
    • Briefly discuss discretionary money; follow it up in a subsequent lesson.
  • Encourage them to focus on growth in three areas:
    • Personal qualities they know they lack.
    • Spiritual growth.
    • Family growth.


A fun way to reinforce the lesson (and help family communication) is to encourage kids to interview two people (one parent, one teacher), asking them the following questions:

  • What one or two things would you do differently if you lived your high school years over again?
  • Did you work in high school? If so, how many hours weekly, and how would you describe the experience?
  • What one quality (personal characteristic) would you like to have developed in high school that would have been helpful for your future?


  1. There is large and increasing number of adolescents entering the workforce.
  2. Studies indicate that there are comprehensive effects that employment has on adolescents.
  3. This discussion and information can be used by those dealing with youth in the following ways:
    • To better understand the effects of kids’ employment on their lives and development.
    • To help monitor and guide kids in the amount of time spent at work (which seems to be a critical factor in a healthy work experience).
    • To help parents and their kids communicate on issues that affect both of them.
    • To work through materialistic and greed issues with the adolescent.
    • To help monitor the balance between work and other aspects of their lives.
Ben Herr cCYS