Joshua sorts the last of his newspapers and flyers for delivery.

An early lesson for newspaper kids

Paperboys aren’t nearly as common today as they were decades ago, but they are far from extinct.

Some Toronto parents have found that delivering newspapers is a way for their children to get an early sense of money and work while fostering responsibility, accountability and independence.

Joshua is a six-year-old who began delivering community newspapers and shopper flyers under Metroland’s distribution network with his mother, Cathy Yan, in the summer of 2015.

“We got this idea because he was always asking us to spend money and buy stuff for him that he doesn’t need, so we wanted him to learn that it’s not easy to earn money and understand that it’s important to save,” Yan said.

At Metroland, the minimum age to sign a contract for a paper route is 10.

“Whoever’s name the route is in, that’s who’s responsible for delivering the papers,” said Metroland representative Patti Roe.

“If it’s an adult and they want to take their child, I would have no control over that.”

Joshua and his mom walk along their assigned route once a week, trolley in tow, and place the paper and flier packages on the driveways they pass by.

“We support him by helping him with the paper delivery and encouraging him to keep at it even when the weather is not the best … We match the money he makes which gives him more motivation to continue,” Yan said.

Due to the shift to digital platforms and the disappearance of afternoon papers, the number of kids delivering papers has declined greatly and newspaper delivery is increasingly done by adults in cars doing drive-and-toss.

“We don’t go to as many houses as the people who drive and throw their papers out the truck, but we finish,” Joshua said as he bundled together the papers for delivery with the help of his mom.

Famous Paperboys:

Many leaders of the past century started out delivering papers.

Walt Disney (Entrepreneur, producer)
Ed Sullivan (TV personality, reporter)
Harry S. Truman (former U.S. president)
Martin Luther King Jr. (Minister, activist)
John Wayne (Actor, director)
Wayne Gretzky (Hockey player, coach)
Tom Cruise (Actor, filmmaker)
Bing Crosby (Singer, actor)
Warren Buffett (Investor)

Some child professionals believe that for kids, being able to do a job well leads to increased self-confidence and a sense of accomplishment, when balanced with a child’s need for sleep, play and school.

Joshua is not alone in his endeavors. Allen Ho is a 13-year-old working the same job, except he’s old enough to do it on his own.

Allen started for a similar reason – his dad wanted him to know what working feels like.

“It’s more work than you think,” the youngster said.

The work hasn’t impacted his daily life, as it’s only once a week after school on Thursday, and the route is right on his street.

Meantime, like Allen, Joshua will eventually take care of the route on his own, his mother said.

“Even in just these few months, his maturity and responsibility with money has improved a lot, and he’s already thinking of how to get good jobs and earn more money in the future.”