Planning a career isn’t high on most children’s priority list. Still, most children dream of an exciting future. As parents we get the chance to plant and nurture the seeds of ambition that can help big childhood dreams blossom into lifelong passions. Career exploration for elementary students shouldn’t be a chore. Use these simple tactics for harnessing the power of a child’s imagination and making career exploration activities fun. This should be about kids being exposed to lots of good career options so that they can naturally be drawn to the one that is right for them. Here are five fun ideas for career exploration for elementary students.
It is important to recognize that it is ok for children to change their minds frequently about what they want to be when they grow up. My daughter wanted to be an artist, a fire fighter, a paleontologist, a rocket scientist, a statistician, and now she wants to be an engineer. My son wanted to be a trash man, a football player, and now he wants to be a video game designer.
Inspire Your Child Through Career Exploration For Elementary Students
1. Career Exploration Games For Elementary Students
Play Games That Role Play Careers. Young kids love role play games like doctor or veterinarian or cops or restaurant or court of law. These games are fun for kids and these role play games show that they are starting to thinking about what various jobs do.
Try Video Games. It’s no secret that casual video gaming can become addictive – so why not let kids learn while they play? Whether a child dreams of becoming a pilot, a fashion designer or a world-class chef, there’s a game that’ll teach the basics. And thanks to the widespread success of the “freemium” business model, most of these games are free to try – making it easy for young dabblers to explore all sorts of topics to their hearts’ content. In fact, even a passion for video games themselves can lead to a well-paying career.
Board Games. There are so many board games and they can provide exposure to all sorts of careers. CLUE may give your child an idea of what a detective does. Madame President may help your child understand what a politician does. Monopoly helps kids see what a real estate baron does. There is even a board game called Careers.
Games can serve as excellent indicators of where a kid’s heart is.
2. Provide Real Heroes
Comic-book superheroes are more popular than ever before, but the pages of science and art books are filled with their own inspiring tales of real-life crusaders. Helping a child relate his or her personal quirks to, say, young Picasso’s struggles against the artistic establishment, or to Bill Gates’ high-school obsession with computer tinkering, doesn’t only set the bar high; it serves as a reminder that it’s OK to stand out from the crowd. Real life role models or heroes show that hard work and persistence can turn even the wildest dreams into realistic plans of action.
One way to provide real heroes like these is to discuss the ones you hear about in the news. Another is to read biographies about famous people written for children. Kids love reading together and it will be fun to see what parts interest them the most.
3. Encourage Career Investigation
At some point, every parent gets tired of answering that endless barrage of “what?” “how?” and “why?”. That’s why it’s crucial to give kids the tools they’ll need to investigate their questions on their own – from basic search-engine savvy to critical and lateral thinking skills. Not only will these problem-solving tactics prove useful for school research projects; they’ll foster an inquisitive mindset that’ll naturally draw kids toward fields that interest them. What’s more, a nose for investigation comes in handy in any career, from corporate accounting to nuclear physics.
4. Join a Group
No matter what a child’s passion is, there’s bound to be a group of other kids interested in the same topic. Beyond school clubs, organizations like the National Association for Gifted Children and Boys and Girls Clubs of America offer seminars and field trips for curious youngsters. And there’s nothing stopping high-schoolers from signing up for local meetups of creative writers or computer programmers or trail hikers. Don’t worry too much if a group isn’t explicitly career-oriented – hanging out with like-minded hobbyists will still help boost a kid’s confidence and skill. Besides, a little networking practice never hurts! Skill focused summer camps are also a great idea.
5. Integrate Work and Play
As the old saying goes, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” In other words, work feels like play when it’s fueled by a genuine desire – to achieve a milestone, to express an idea, or to understand the world more fully. World-class athletes, artists and scientists succeed because their work is an integral part of their day-to-day life; left to their own devices, they’d still be doing what they do best. Bring this attitude into a child’s life, and all the other pieces will fall into place naturally. Help kids to see what careers match their natural talents and interests.
If they like dinosaurs talk them about what a paleontologist does. If they like animals, talk to them about what a vet does. Read books together about the things that interest them.
Career exploration for elementary students is just about showing them different career options. You are showing them that there are lots of doors available so that they can open one of those doors someday. As a child, I didn’t even know there was such a thing as an engineer so I didn’t even know that was a career choice. This phase of career exploration is just about opening their mind to possibilities. As your child begins to chose a career that interest them, don’t forget to encourage your child to dream big and work to reach their goals!
What are some of your favorite career exploration tips for kids?