It’s never too early to start thinking about your career. In fact, many children in early elementary have already made a decision. When asking “what do you want to be when you grow up?” parents will hear a variety of answers ranging from princess to astronaut. However attainable the job is for a child — at this point — is not relevant. The most important thing is the awareness of a career in which your child thinks he or she will excel.
As time goes on, your child’s mind grows through high school, and there may be several shifts and refocusing of career paths. It falls upon the parents/guardians to help their son or daughter find their own career path. Acknowledging their own strengths and weaknesses, necessary development of skills, and planning for their career is vital for youngsters in all stages of development.
Below are a few ways in which you can help prepare your children for the career they want.
Recognition & Exploration
In the early years of education — approximately grades K-5 — it is essential to present children with a hands-on approach to a diverse set of career options. Many activities can be designed to help children explore the idea of becoming an educator, a banker, or a police officer.
A career day, or career fair, is important for elementary, middle, as well as high school students — an activity where volunteers, usually parents and community members, set up stations and speak to inquisitive minds about what their job entails. In the elementary stage, a volunteer might bring his or her nursing uniform and talk about what they do. Middle and high schoolers will learn how to follow in their tracks, learning some of the more specific do’s and don’ts of being accepted to nursing school while volunteering at their local hospital.
A more comprehensive way for elementary children, amongst others, to gain exposure and awareness of jobs is to have them pick out an individual whose job interests them, and interview them for a report. This is a way for your children to ask the questions that interest them about an occupation that they are drawn to, not to mention learn how to communicate with adult professionals in that field. If you or other volunteers are unavailable, it could also be helpful to have the child pick out a book detailing an occupation and report back to you, the parents, about the career that they found interesting.
Development & Preparation
The development and planning stage is usually undertaken in the middle school stages of a child’s life and directed toward getting the youth to pinpoint his or her personal interests and gear them toward an occupation. Classes may be planned around analyzing job skills needed in recognition that career skills require a higher education, like college, or vocational training.
Again, career fairs are great activities for middle school children to ask questions about schooling and job skills. It is already known to your child what job the volunteer has at this point; now come basic questions on how to obtain the occupation. It is usually at this point in time where children learn that a career decision can affect your life.
Interests & Experience
A freshman student should prepare similarly to a senior preparing for college and/or a career. Self-evaluation skills are needed to assess a child’s own strengths and weaknesses, physical and mental capabilities, and ability to mentally apply them across a broad array of occupations. Career aspirations and goals should also be a conversation had between your child and you, their peers, and school counselors.
High school students should also have a basic understanding of finance, income, and career goals. At this point in time, extensive financial operations are a bit much, but understanding that a large part of maintaining a career is to earn income for, conceivably, a lifetime of financial security should be emphasized. Your child should have the knowledge that planning a career based upon income as well as interests and strengths will lead to a lifetime of economic and societal satisfaction.
Teenagers in high school, especially seniors, should be taught how to write a resume that showcases their skills and — if they’ve obtained it — experience. In many cases, experience is necessary for the current job market. Teens should be encouraged to gain some sort of experience or training in their respective career path. With the busy lifestyle of a child these days — sports, music lessons, ect. — online learning is gaining popularity as a convenient, flexible way to gain valuable experience toward the career they have chosen.
It is important for your children to choose their own career path, but without some sort of guidance, a child might end up lost and aimless, or worse. Knowing how to influence your child in the correct way will allow them to assess what they are good at in order to obtain a career and become self-sufficient. Starting from kindergarten, it is important to give children direction, but make sure they are choosing the right career path by their own volition and for their own satisfaction.