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Volunteer jobs for teens — Good Parenting

Welcome to Good Parenting, our weekly online series on parenting advice with Annapolis, Maryland, expert Dr. Deborah Wood.

Headshot2011Volunteer jobs for teens — Good Parenting

Dear Dr. Debbie,

I am proud and relieved to tell you that my son who was failing 11th grade over a year ago has been able to accomplish what looked to be impossible at that time. With the help of medicine for attention deficit disorder, he was finally able to focus on school – completing everything needed to pass 3 years of missing assignments and to make acceptable test scores to graduate from high school. It was hard work, but he made it with the help of tutors, family members, and friends from church.

He hasn’t put much thought into what comes next, however. And quite frankly, neither has anyone else. Would volunteer work be a good idea to get him into a routine to start off the summer?

Proud and Exhausted Parent

Don’t miss last week’s column Toddler say’s ‘Do it again!’ 

Dear PEP,

Yes! There are many volunteer positions that he could quickly get himself into. The best place to look locally would be the Anne Arundel County Volunteer Center: 410-897-9207. This county-wide non-profit organization produces an annually revised Youth Volunteer Guide which lists agencies that offer volunteer opportunities for teens.

Volunteer work has many benefits for his stage of life. He can pursue an interest to learn more about a particular career field. Better to find out sooner than later – before investing time and money in a college major – whether this kind of work is or isn’t for him. Jumping right into on-the-job training is particularly attractive for those who struggle with school. Plus it’s a realistic way to see if he truly enjoys not only this kind of work, but the people who do the work. You might want to steer him toward a volunteer position that uses other teen volunteers. The hardest thing about leaving high school, for most teens, is the loss of daily contact with friends. A good volunteer placement can fill that gap. And the adults with whom he works can provide contacts for future jobs as well as references for those jobs or for college applications. Or it may turn out that a paid position grows out of his summer volunteer role.

The summer after high school is the perfect transition time for a teen to experience a taste of the world of work before deciding what comes next.

Dr. Debbie

Deborah Wood is a child development specialist in Annapolis. She holds a doctorate in Human Development from the University of Maryland at College Park and is founding director of the Chesapeake Children’s Museum. Long time fans and new readers can find many of her “Understanding Children” columns archived on the Chesapeake Family Magazine website. You can find her online at drdebbiewood.com.

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments or submit a question to Dr. Debbie at Betsy@jecoannapolis.com

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