Raising big dreamers
Ways to have career conversations with kids
Pre-pandemic, Take Your Child to Work Day was an opportunity for children to peek behind the mysterious veil of “work” – to see what their parents do all day and begin to dream about the careers they might like to pursue when they grow up.
For some parents, every day might feel like Take Your Child to Work Day. For others, health and safety concerns might make it impossible to bring children to their workplaces. That doesn’t mean it’s any less important to take some time to help your children imagine turning their passions into careers.
“Children need exposure to the possibilities that exist so they can envision themselves doing what inspires them in the future,” said Content Architect Rashelle Chase from KinderCare Learning Centers’ education team. “Learning about different career options also helps children learn about how the world works and the different types of roles and systems that are in place to help society function.”
Consider these tips from the experts at KinderCare to help parents infuse some of the Take Your Child to Work Day spirit into everyday life.
Expose your children to a variety of career options. Young children tend to think of careers in terms of the kinds of jobs they see adults doing, like doctors, firefighters and teachers. Help your children discover careers that are new to them. Talk about essential workers and why they are depended on so heavily. Share details about the work your immediate and extended family members do – perhaps you could arrange a virtual call so your children can see a family member at work. Point out other kinds of workers as your child encounters them, whether that’s during a walk around the neighborhood or while reading a book.
Help your children imagine turning their passions into careers. Not every block builder turns into an architect. Some go into construction, some into engineering and some pursue other careers entirely. When children express an interest in a specific career or type of work, help them think about the kinds of skills they could work on now to help turn that dream into a reality. Help your children make connections between the things they like to do now and the kinds of careers that could lead to. Maybe there’s an activity or volunteer experience your children could do, or a club they could join, that would help nurture that passion and expand their skillset.
Break career stereotypes. Point out diverse people doing jobs as you see them in the community or in books or media – like female firefighters, male teachers or biracial female vice presidents – and talk about the diverse viewpoints and experiences each person can bring to his or her career. Be active about squashing gender stereotypes whenever you see or hear them. Encourage your children to pursue their ambitions and let them know you believe in them and their ability to succeed in whatever career they want.
Help your child to see “work” and “jobs” as positive things, especially after rough days. Be honest about the struggles and successes you have in your own career. Celebrate your successes and talk with your children about how you problem-solve or persevere through tough times. Model coping skills your children can apply to their own “job” – school. It’s important for children to understand one can still find fulfillment and passion in a career even if there are tough moments.
For more ideas to help your children explore and expand their career dreams, visit kindercare.com.