Big school brings lots of big opportunities. Here’s our guide to extra-earners, chores and side hustles for secondary school kids
Heading to secondary school doesn’t just bring more academic work for kids. It’s also a good time to rethink the kind of chores, little domestic jobs, extra-earners and side hustles kids can undertake. Some chores can help tweens and teens gain confidence; other jobs can lighten your load at home; and a few jobs and side-hustles like the ones below can boost pocket money. Here’s our guide to side hustles and chores well suited to secondary school kids.
Packing and unpacking their school bag
During the primary school years, most parents get used to pulling out old PTA letters and uneaten bananas from their child’s bag. When it comes to secondary, however, things are a little different. Kids carry many more books, have a more complicated schedule, are expected to to be a little more organised, and have to convey more information back home. Getting them to sort through their bag every day, or even just every week, should smooth this process out, and may prevent you from discovering unwanted lunchtime snacks from their rucksack at the end of term.
Does this feel more like a regular routine, rather than a paid chore? Rooster Money can still help. The Chores feature* in our app lets you set paid and unpaid chores, as one-off and also regular, recurring ones.
Setting aside time for homework
The jump to secondary school also means a big jump in homework. Even during years 7 and 8, pupils will be expected to do around an hour’s homework a night. Finding time for this alongside gaming, TikTok and tea isn’t always easy. If you can get your son or daughter to agree on a time, then set it aside, each school night, on a weekly basis, you’ll be off to a good start. Rooster Money’s Chores feature can help here too. A homework nudge every afternoon from our app might just help you to feel a little less ‘naggy’ in getting them to start work.
Sorting out their uniform
Year 7s are probably still a little too young to be emptying the dryer and ironing their own clothes, but there’s no reason why they can’t help out a little with their uniform. Making sure all their dirty clothes are in the washing basket, putting their tie somewhere safe for the next day, and maybe even shining their shoes are all good kids’ jobs. Get these in place early, and it should take some stress out of school-day mornings.
Chores to encourage independence
Getting their own breakfast
Secondary schools tend to start earlier than primary schools, which may lead to rushed corn flakes if parents are still preparing all the food. While some secondary school children might not quite be up to cooking lunch or dinner, they should be able to pour out some milk and cereal, microwave some porridge, make toast or maybe even blend a smoothie.
Tidying their bedroom
Most kids don’t like having a messy room, but fewer are willing to put the effort in to ensure it’s neat. When they reach secondary school they may well start having friends over to hang out in their room a little more regularly, so both you and your child will want to keep it looking nice. Maybe start with asking them to make their bed each morning, and put their dirty clothes on the washing pile at the end of the day. These simple tasks may help them realise that clearing doesn’t just help their parents; it helps them too.
Walking a dog on their own, or popping to the shops
Only you know whether it’s right or wrong to let your child out of the house on their own. However, by the time they’re at secondary school, they’re probably gaining a little independence, and a job like this might help them develop that sense of independence a bit further. If you’ve a regular dog-walking route, or a nearby shop you use for last-minute items, why not trust them with heading out locally, during daylight hours, to see how it goes?
Maintaining their bike, scooter or skateboard
If your kid is using a bike, scooter or skateboard to get to and from school, you can encourage them to carry out simple maintenance. This could be a little as cleaning and oiling, or pumping up tyres, but if they show an interest, you could take them through more complicated tasks, such as adjusting brakes or changing bearings. These are great life skills, and If they do this well, they’ll find the chore pays off naturally, in a slicker, easier ride to school, and less time spent on the weekend, nagging parents to fix their rides.
Tidying after themselves
Some kids are neat freaks, while others need a little encouragement. Putting towels back on the towel rack, milk back in the fridge, and dishes in the sink or the dishwasher are simple tasks most secondary school children should master, not only to make your life easier, but also to improve theirs in the longer run. They’ll need to learn to do this sort of thing for themselves at some point; if you force them to do it now, they’ll gain skills for later life.
Helping out more with sports and hobbies
During the early years plenty of parents try out all sorts of hobbies and sports with their kids, from saxophone lessons to swimming clubs. By the time secondary school comes around, many children have found the pursuits that suits them, and can make a little more effort, to pack their sports bag, do their scales and instrument practice, or let parents know about a big forthcoming tournament or meet. Offloading a little extracurricular responsibility will help you out, and help them grow.
How much should you pay secondary school kids for chores?
Figures will vary across the country and from family to family; if you already give your children pocket money, then you’ll know roughly how much money will motivate them. The following figures are from NatWest Rooster Money’s latest Pocket Money Index, and so covers all age groups, but it should give you a rough idea.
Top paid chores: washing the car: £2.67; mowing the lawn: £2.43; raking leaves: £1.92; washing windows, £1.91; gardening: £1.38.
Most common chores: Tidy the bedroom; doing the laundry; empty the dishwasher; hoovering; making the bed.
Work and side hustles for secondary school kids
Most kids starting secondary school won’t be eligible to work. In the UK, the youngest age a child can work part-time is 13, except children involved in areas such as TV, films, the theatre and modelling; in those instances, kids can work from any age, but need a performance licence.
Secondary school kids aged 13 and over can work part time, but there are still restrictions. During the school term, children can only work a maximum of 12 hours a week; this includes a maximum of two hours on school days and Sundays, and five hours on Saturdays for 13 to 14 year olds, or 8 hours for 14 to 16 year olds.
Over the school holidays, 13 to 14 year olds are only allowed to work for a maximum of 25 hours a week, with a maximum of five hours on weekdays and Saturdays and two hours on Sunday. 15 to 16 year olds can work 35 hours a week, with a maxim of eight hours on weekdays and Saturdays.
Side hustles are slightly different. According to our latest Pocket Money Index, plenty of mums and dads are helping their children to become mini entrepreneurs, via resale sites such as Ebay, Depop and Gumtree. You can read a longer post about it, but to summarise: most resale sites require an adult to oversee the account, and most kids will need a hand with listings, communications and packing up goods. Still, with a bit of help, there’s no reason why secondary-school age children can’t turn their old books, clothes and games into fresh spending money, or even savings.
Secondary-school kids might be a bit too old for a lemonade stand, but they could also try some simple, neighbourhood side-hustles, such as washing cars, sweeping leaves or mowing lawns.
Secondary school children and tax
Most kids won’t need to worry about tax. All of us, regardless of age, are entitled to use a £1,000 trading allowance each year. If their earnings are £1,000 or below, they probably don’t even have to contact the tax authorities. If a child earns more than this, then HMRC should be informed. However, children are still entitled to a standard Personal Allowance of £12,570, which is the amount of income you do not have to pay tax on. If a child is under 16, they also don’t have to pay National Insurance.