How to Help Kids Understand What It Means to Have a Job

To teach a kid about having a job is more than giving them a chore to do.

My kids know what their dad does for a living — he's the music minister at our church — but they don't fully comprehend what it means to have a job, nor do they understand a lot of the terminology that goes with it. I would imagine that this is true for many families.

Since job-related words are frequently used in the news, on TV shows, and in our everyday lives, an education in work place terminology can be very helpful for kids.

Now I'm not suggesting you sit down with your five-year-old to explain stock options and 401Ks; this workplace lesson is better suited for kids in the upper elementary grades and above. And of course, the older your children are, the more in-depth you can go with your explanation.

Here's a list of some basic job-related questions you might want to answer for your kids.

  • What's the difference between a full-time and part-time job? It might also be helpful to explain to your kids how the modern 8-hour workday came into being.
  • What is vacation time and does everyone who works get it?
  • What is sick time?
  • What's the difference between hourly pay and a yearly salary?
  • What does minimum wage mean?
  • What is a resume? You can browse through some sample resumes with your kids.
  • What's a job interview? You could even do an actual job interview with your kids. For example, if your son likes Legos, interview him for an imaginary job at the Lego factory. Make it fun! Check here for interview question inspiration.
  • What's payday, and how often can people be paid? per diem, per contract, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc.
  • What are benefits and who gets them? insurance, retirement, etc.
  • What kinds of breaks do people get, and how long do they last? the lunch break, 15-minute breaks, etc.
  • What is unemployment?

Once you start the conversation, I'd wager your kids will come up with a lot more questions than I've listed here. Teaching your kids about having a job is a life skill that will keep them focused on future goals.

Do you have any questions you'd like to add to the list?

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  1. says

    A good list of things to discuss with the children. We're working on career exploration with the oldest three (11-16) and it involves some of these ideas.

    Annie Kate


  2. Colleen says

    I love your website and all of your great resources, thank you so much for sharing so many of your great ideas! :)


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