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Perhaps one of the most important things we can teach our children, apart from a love of the Lord Jesus Christ, is a good work ethic. While education continues for a lifetime, character, including work ethic, is formed during one's youth. Really, it is foundational to higher learning, because without a good work ethic, our children aren't motivated to actively participate in their education and be good students.
Not only will a good work ethic help our children as they pursue an education, but it will help them as they enter the work force and become the next generation of laborers in the church.
Developing a good work ethic begins at a young age. (For a three-part series on Teaching Our Children to Work, click here.)
By the tween and teen years, we like to find ways to expand and develop a good work ethic from work inside the home to small business opportunities. This allows teens
Over the years, we've tried, both successfully and unsuccessfully, to help our kids pursue small business opportunities. We have some attempts with so-so results and others that were epic failures! However, even in the failures (from a financial standpoint), the kids learned valuable lessons.
Here are our four favorite simple cottage industries for teens and tweens.
Although we do year-round schooling, our summer schedule is very relaxed, making it the perfect time to begin a cottage industry.
One year some of the kids grew petite ornamental gourds to sell. This year, they grew small pumpkins and birdhouse gourds.
The work was minimal and only required a few things:
Pumpkins are just about the easiest things to grow and produce an ample harvest! We didn't really advertise them too heavily--just listed them on Craigslist and Facebook. However, next year, my daughter has big plans to get a contract with a local store. She sweet-talked Daddy into agreeing to till up our entire backyard (about 1/4 of an acre) and let her use it as a pumpkin patch. We'll keep you posted. ;-)
Since upcycling, re-purposing, and distressed crafts are really popular right now, my 14-year-old and Tara's 12-year-old decided to spend the summer making crafts to sell.
We're pretty confident at this point that they are not interested in a college career path, so we've begun exploring other options to give them plenty of time to find what things they enjoy and are good at. Making crafts was a great way to become familiar with some different tools and skills that they might use in a wide variety of jobs, such as cabinet or furniture making, carpentry, etc.
Here are some of the crafts they came up with:
I'll admit, this one depends greatly on your location.
We live in the country and our property adjoins my parents' 50+ acres, which are mostly wooded. Some of the older boys decided to begin a woodcutting business. They have been splitting and stacking wood from trees that are down in these woods. After the wood seasons, they'll sell it.
Before being able to go out and work, they had to work with the dads for a while to make certain they knew how to use the equipment properly and have demonstrated maturity around heavy equipment.
We purchased these Kevlar chaps (for protection while using the chainsaw) and safety glasses. As an added measure of safety, no one goes out alone, in case there's an accident.
Selling Wild Nuts
Last year my then-9-year-old collected black walnuts and sold them to a contractor for Hammons Black Walnuts company. It took relatively little time for her to collect the walnuts and the nuts did not have to be hulled. We simply took them to the contractor where they were weighed and she was paid immediately in cash.
Although this cottage industry is most ideally suited to landowners in the country, it's not limited to country folk. There are people who own walnut trees, even in the suburbs, but don't realize their value and simply run over them year after year with the lawn mower; they would be eager to have someone remove them. It never hurts to ask! Also, many state parks allow foraging. (Check with your state's laws.)
Selling nuts isn't limited to Black Walnuts. Here in Ohio, we have a lot of Buckeye trees (you know, the Buckeye state? lol) These can be harvested and sold for a good price on Ebay or Craigslist. Although they aren't edible, people use them to make necklaces for Ohio State Buckeye fans to wear at the games.
My aunt lives in Georgia and owns several pecan trees. Although she could sell them she usually gives them away to family at Christmas. They are so good!
Perhaps there is something native to your state that can be harvested and sold?
This is just a brief list of cottage industries our children have tried. I hope these ideas help you and your child begin to think of opportunities that might exist in your area. The opportunities are as endless as your vision!
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