For most children reading today’s Wonder of the Day, your full-time job is school. You get up, get ready, eat breakfast, and then head to school. Your job is to do your best to learn all that you can.

Why? So one day you can get a real job to make money to support yourself and your family. And if you think school is a lot of work…just wait! Ask your parents. We bet they would trade places with you in a heartbeat!

Many children look forward to the day when they can get a job of their own. Some children look forward to the independence. Others look forward to the money they will make and what they can do with it. Still others eagerly await the chance to do something important for others.

So what do you think about getting a job? Are you ready? Do you look forward to it? What do you think you want to be when you grow up? And why aren’t there more children working in the world today?

In many places around the world, children do begin working at an early age. Unfortunately, many of the jobs are dangerous and put children at risk of serious illness or injury. Many countries around the world, including the United States, have very specific laws that regulate the age when children are allowed to work and what types of jobs are appropriate for children.

These laws are called child labor laws. They don’t prevent children from doing every type of work. Instead, they seek to make sure that children aren’t taken advantage of or forced to work in dangerous situations or for long hours that would endanger their health and safety or deprive them of the chance to attend school.

During the Industrial Revolution, many children were forced to work in factories in unsafe conditions. Today, the majority of child labor worldwide occurs in agriculture (farming) rather than factories. Many of these child laborers work for free for their parents in areas where poverty is high and everyone has to work to make ends meet.

So what exactly constitutes child labor? According to international law, child labor is any work done by children under the age of 12, light work (work that doesn’t harm a child’s health or interfere with school attendance) by children 12-14, and hazardous work done by children 15-17.

Is all child labor bad? Not at all! Many families involve children in family businesses from an early age. That doesn’t mean that those children don’t get an education or miss their childhood. They just help out around the family farm or business as a way of life growing up.

If you’re under 12, don’t rush to grow up too fast! Enjoy your childhood while you can. Get the best education you can. There will be plenty of years to work ahead of you.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt to be interested in working at an early age. But rather than jumping into a work situation, explore what the world has to offer. Look into all sorts of different careers and learn what you can about them. You never know when that exploration will lead you to the career that will define the rest of your life!

50 Join the Discussion

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    • Hey Kate! Happy Friday to you, Wonder Friend! You’ve got a long way to go before you have to go to work, but we bet you are already volunteering and helping your community– you may not even realize it! :)

    • Hey Annie! Sometimes Wonderopolis has that affect on others! :)

      We are glad you’ve been using your imagination with us today… we Wonder what you want to be when you grow up? Where would you like to work? :)

  1. It doesn’t make it seem like child labour when one is simply helping out the family! I see it in the small shops in Hong Kong and I think it is a good life lesson to learn effective communication, how to make change and good people skills. The children I see look happy to be contributing.

    • Hi Leslie, thank you for sharing your comment today. We really appreciate your thoughts and opinions about today’s Wonder– we’re glad you’re thinking about how work might affect children in a positive way. We definitely think communication, people skills and flexibility are great to possess, but we also need to think about long term affects of working from a very young age. :)

    • OOOH so many great guesses from our Wonder Friends in Mrs. Chick’s Class– we had better get going! We think you’re on a roll! :)

    • That’s awesome, Pink Popstars! It sounds like this Wonder really inspired you to think outside the box! HOW FANTASTIC! :)

    • Hey there, Kade! We Wonder what you’d like to do when you grow up… we Wonder what kind of work interests you? :)

    • People work at all hours of the day, Wonder Friend Jusin, it just depends on the job. If you’ve ever gone to dinner at a restaurant, many of the people who work in the restaurant are at work in the evening (while you’re eating)! :)

    • You’re off to a great start, Wonder Friends in Mrs. R’s Class! Thanks for sharing your heart-pumping Wonder predictions! :)

  2. Hi Wonderopopils! 8-D!!
    That is so cool!! I really like today’s Wonder! :)
    I hope you are having a good day!

    -K9Luv28 😀

    • Hey there, K9Luv28! We’re so glad you’re back to Wonder with us! We are glad today’s Wonder made you smile, and we’re happy to know that you’ve been thinking about what you’d like to do when you are ready to work! :)

    • Thanks for WONDERing with us today, Michael! We Wonder if you know what you’d like to do in the future when you go to work? :)

  3. I would like to get a job and make the money but I don’t think I’m ready for it. When I grow up I would like to be a vet or photographer.

    • We hope you’ll follow your dreams, Jane, when you’re ready to work, of course! We are glad you shared what you’d like to do when you are ready for work. We hope you have a SUPER day filled with Wonder, Jane! :)

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend Chinchilla, thanks for sharing your comment with us! We LOVE your enthusiasm about what you want to do in the future! Perhaps you can combine your DJing skills with teaching and you can use music to help your students?! :)

      We’d love to have you here at Wonderopolis, too! Thanks for sharing your comment! :)

    • We’re so glad to hear that you’ve already been WONDERing about what you want to do in the future, Gabrianna! It sounds like you’re a very creative Wonder Friend! Follow your dreams, we believe in you! :)

    • HOORAY, that’s awesome news, Sejla, we’re so happy that you’ve been WONDERing with us! It sounds like you are in a Wondrous classroom at Stevens School, too! :)

  4. Hay guys, this is my first day on Wonderopolis! Hurray! I’d like to go to college first! I’m from Ms. U’s class! I’m doing a report on Snow Leopards and I need FACTS! Can you please give me some Websites for “facts” about “snow leopards”
    Dragon Girl

  5. I really want to set my goals on being a singer or violin player any wonder related to that would help me?! Where I would want to work… well If I weren’t a singer or violinist I would proably work at a calm place, I CANT STAND CRAZY PLACES! I’m sure nobody can if they can they are like Batman to me! :)

    • HOORAY, we’re so glad you’re dreaming big, Annie, and we are glad you love music so much! That’s WONDERful if you ask us! :)

      We think working in a cool place with lots of organization sounds awesome, too, it sounds a lot like Wonderopolis! It’s organized but there’s more than enough room to Wonder! :)

    • Thanks for visiting so many of our Wonders today, Dragon Girl! It’s been great to hear all about what you’ve learned! :)

    • Go after your dreams, Ashley! We hope you keep a song in your mind and rhythm in your heart! Dance your heart out! :)

    • We’ve got some super brave Wonder Friends! HOORAY for Kfinch2091 and Sbeebe2019! We are glad you’ve been thinking about what you want to do in the future! Keep up the great work! :)

    • We’re so glad to hear it, Kyle! Thanks for making us smile and for WONDERing with us! We enjoyed your comment! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • When can I go to work?
  • What are child labor laws?
  • Are there jobs you can do around your house?

Wonder Gallery

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Try It Out

Now is the time to work! Put what you learned in today’s Wonder of the Day into action. Grab a friend or family member and check out one or more of the following activities:

  • Do you know any kids who work? Ask around amongst your classmates, neighbors, and family members. Someone will surely know a teenager who has a job. If you can, interview that teenager to find out all you can about his or her job. When did they start? How did they find their job? What things do they like about working? What parts do they not like? You never know when you might be inspired to find your own job as a teenager!
  • What kinds of jobs might you be interested in when you grow up? One way to find out is to try various jobs when you’re younger. Of course, you can’t always do the exact same type of work. But even working alongside someone can give you an idea of whether they’re chosen career might be of interest to you in the future. For example, if you think you might want to be a pharmacist someday, perhaps you could work stocking shelves at a local pharmacy. Come up with a list of five to ten potential future careers, and then brainstorm the types of jobs you could do as a teenager that might give you insight into those jobs.
  • Ready to earn some extra money? Even if you’re too young to work a regular job in a factory or a store, that doesn’t mean you can’t get some experience and earn a little extra spending cash on the side! Ask your friends and family members if they have any chores that would be appropriate for someone your age. Can you help babysit a relative? How about weeding the garden? Mowing the grass? Dusting the house? Washing the dishes? Folding the laundry? There are all sorts of jobs that you can do today to get an idea of what real work is like. Maybe you can even help a friend or family member with their real job. If you can, go to work with a friend or family member one day to see what “real” work is like. You never know when you might learn something that sparks an interest in a future career!

Still Wondering

In ReadWriteThink’s Giving Voice to Child Laborers Through Monologues lesson, children present monologues in the “voice” of someone involved in child labor in England, respond to questions and then discuss contemporary child laborers and compare them to the past.

Wonder What’s Next?

If you’re coming to Wonderopolis tomorrow, better bring your running shoes!

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