Being aware of a wide range of careers can really change children’s attitude to school and help them be so much more positive about school. When children realise that exciting careers can be within their reach if they do their best at school, working harder at school seems more attractive.
It’s essential that parents and teachers make careers investigation FUN for children. If focusing on careers simply creates stress for children, the whole activity can be counterproductive and even damaging to their wellbeing.
What are the most important messages children need to hear?
- You don’t have to choose one career right now. But it’s fun to start thinking about all of the exciting possibilities.
- Girls and boys can do any job they want to.
- You can change your mind many times.
- Many children are interested in more than one career. That’s normal!
How can parents help?
- When a particular career is featured on television or in the media, ask your child whether this seems to be an appealing career. ‘Do you think this would be fun? Do you think you would like a job like this?’
- Tell children fun facts about careers. The internet is a wonderful source of information.
- Avoid making judgemental comments about specific careers. Sometimes a career you may not value could greatly appeal to your child. Sometimes a career your child expresses interest in could make your hair stand on end. Relax, children and teenagers change their minds as often as they change their taste in food or music.
- Point out inspirational career success stories to your children to break down gender stereotypes that some careers are more suited to boys or girls.
- If your child’s school decides to run a careers expo, be supportive. Consider taking part in the expo.
- Support your children with their career interests. Comments like ‘That’s a really tough job’ or ‘Are you sure you want to do a job like that!?’ can make children question their judgement, ability or both. Sometimes these comments can also make feisty children more determined than ever to follow the career you seem to dislike.
- Use questions and comments that prompt children to think critically while keeping their self-esteem intact. ‘What would you like the most about this career?’, ‘Would you like to look for more information on this career?’ or ‘Let’s ask uncle Alex about this. I think he has a friend who is an architect’.
- Take your child to an Open Day at a university or TAFE institute. There are fantastic displays and exciting workshops.
What career websites are appropriate for young children?
Unfortunately, most of the major careers websites would be quite challenging for children until they reach at least the last few years in primary school.
However, the CareerCentre website does have an impressive range of careers listed alphabetically. Going through this with younger children may help them find some careers they could have fun learning more about. ‘Occupation Profiles A-Z’ can be found under the Jobs and Careers tab.
How can parents help?
- Parents can help children understand the content. Some of the careers have quite interesting short videos that would appeal to children and parents can watch these with children to then be able to chat about the featured careers.
- Above all, keep ‘Careers Talk’ with your child a fun, non-judgmental and non-stressful activity. it is never too early to start talking about careers with children.