1.) Work at a restaurant waitressing, hosting, and washing dishes. Learn about what makes a good employee, and what makes a good customer! Budget your earnings and figure out how they would support an individual, a small family, or a large family.
2.) Clean houses (for a full week!). Learn how hard it is to physically clean a house from top to bottom.
3.) Work in a car repair shop. Every kid should know how to change a tire, change your oil, and disable a car if necessary. A little working knowledge about the car will make it easier for you to buy, repair, and discuss cars with anyone.
4.) Work with a small businessman or woman. Spend time with an artist, carpenter, electrician, or local shopkeeper. Try to learn about all the parts of the business and how the person manages it. Talk about certifications, licenses, goals, and rewards.
5.) Regularly visit a nursing home. Talk to the people there about what advice they would give to a young person. Keep advice lists to look back on later. Share what you are learning about in history and ask for their perspective.
6.) Walk dogs or pet cats in an animal shelter. Your child should know about what happens when animals aren’t spayed, when they are left on the streets, and when there is no one to take care of them. Teach your kids that you don’t buy a pet unless you are committed to caring for it for a very long time.
7.) Work on a farm. Help your child learn where food comes from and how much work it is to produce it. I suggest a small, organic farm, not a large industrialized farm. It would be great if you child could learn about the process from planting to plate.
8.) Work at Walmart or Target as a regular employee. What is it like to work for minimum wage, what sort of person does it, and what is their life like? Are they really that different from someone in a privileged background?
9.) Regularly volunteer in a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. Spend time talking to those who live there and learning their stories. Ask about their childhood, their hopes and dreams, and their plans for the future.
10.) Visit another (poor) country. Volunteer with an orphanage or a charity group. Spend time with the people who run the charity and those they help. Talk about how politics, culture, and history affect the chances of success for citizens.
11.) Attend churches, synagogues, mosques, and places of worship of as many different religions as possible. Discuss their genesis stories, their belief systems, and how they help their communities.
12.) Tutor other children in an inner-city school. Compare the resources and challenges that these children receive with those that you are accustomed to in your life.
13.) Volunteer for a local political campaign…for the party you do not usually support. Do not share your views but ask lots of questions and really listen to the answers. Research the party, the candidate, and the platform. Try to understand their positions. Talk to as many other volunteers as you can and try to understand why they support this candidate and party.
Do not tell anyone that you are a “privileged” kid. Dress for the job, act appropriately, and do not give advice or suggestions for improvement. In essence, go incognito and really connect on a personal level.
- Do not Instagram, Facebook, blog, brag, share, or otherwise tell people what you are doing. Learn about others in the context of a personal experience, not creating a persona to share with your friends and classmates. Focus on your personal growth, not your social growth.
- Keep a personal, hand-written, journal about all of these experiences. On the right side of the journal, write about your experiences. On the left side of the paper, keep a running list of “lessons learned.”
- Before doing these activities (which could take years if you spend enough time on them) make a goals and dreams chart . What do you want to be when you grow up? What characteristics do you want to have? What words do you want people to use to describe you? Complete the activity again after completing as many of these tasks as possible and then compare notes.
- The main goal is to get out of your bubble, your milieu, or your own mind-set. Ask your child to learn as much as they can about people in the world before they decide who they are or what kind of person they want to be.