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help your child discover the world of work
< Starting Young

Help Your Child Discover the World of Work

Why It's Important to Start Early
Children may do better in school if they can see how education is connected to a successful future. You can help your child:
  • Discover the variety of jobs available to him or her;
  • Connect what he or she is learning in school to real-world situations;
  • Begin viewing himself or herself in an occupation; and
  • Develop work-readiness skills such as working in teams, making decisions, solving problems and being a leader.
Help your child learn about a broad range of careers and show him or her how education is connected to those careers. For example:
  • A veterinarian uses math skills to calculate the amount of medicine a cat will need;
  • A reporter needs writing skills to compose newspaper articles; and
  • A marine biologist relies on his or her knowledge of science to study aquatic life.
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How to Talk to Your Child About Careers
Relate your child's interests to adult activities. For example:
  • If your child likes art, discuss how adults use art to design houses, clothing, magazine ads, movie sets and even toys. Explain that people also use art when they draw cartoons, arrange flowers, or take photos for magazines and books.

  • If your child likes to be outdoors, talk about outdoor careers like landscape architecture, forestry, archaeology, construction work, marine biology and commercial fishing.

  • If your child is very social, discuss how people who like to talk and work with people may choose to work as a teacher, a lawyer, a customer service representative, a receptionist, a hotel manager or a convention planner.

  • If your child likes to help people, talk about different ways he or she can do that in a career such as nursing, medicine, athletic training, family counseling or childcare.

  • If your child loves math, you may want to talk to him or her about becoming an accountant, a computer programmer, an engineer or a statistician. You should also remind your child that almost all careers use basic math, so it is a very important skill.

  • If your child likes to keep others safe, talk to him or her about a career as a police officer, a forensic scientist, a detective, an investigator, a parole officer, a security guard or a bailiff.
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Career Skills for Your Elementary School Child
In elementary school, your child should start learning about responsibility, cooperation and problem-solving. You can help your child learn these skills.
  • Help your child develop a positive attitude about life.

  • Talk about your child's likes and dislikes, and explain that every person has unique tastes.

  • Teach your child to accept other children's ideas, even if they are different from his or hers.

  • Show your child how his or her behavior might affect the feelings of other children.

  • Resolve conflicts in a positive manner.

  • Talk to your child about how he or she feels, and teach your child to deal with his or her emotions in a healthy way.

  • Have your family work as a team to complete a home project.

  • When your child makes a mistake, work positively to correct it and prevent it from happening again.

  • Take your child to school on time, and teach him or her the importance of punctuality.

  • Involve your child in real family decisions. Talk about how the choices your child makes affects other people.

  • Explain why work is important, not only as a source of income but also as a way to contribute to society.
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Career Awareness Activities for You and Your Child
Home activities can increase your child's career awareness.

Show your child how school skills relate to everyday chores such as:
  • paying bills;
  • buying groceries;
  • sending birthday cards and letters;
  • getting appliances repaired;
  • shopping for clothing; and
  • organizing family activities.
Ask your child to create a timeline for his or her school day. For example:
  • 6:30 - Get out of bed
  • 6:35 to 6:45 - Eat breakfast
  • 6:45 to 7:00 - Get dressed, comb hair, brush teeth
  • 7:10 to 7:30 - Get to school
  • 7:40 to 8:00 - Get organized for first class
  • 8:00 - Science class
  • 9:00 - Math class
  • 10:00 - English class
  • 11:00 - Gym class
  • 12:00 - Eat lunch
  • 1:00 - Spanish class
  • 2:00 - Theatre Arts class
  • 3:00 - Do homework
Then ask your child to think about how his or her workday may be similar or different.

Put names of different careers in a bowl.
  • Have your child draw a career name each month.
  • Ask your child to collect as much information as he or she can about that career during the month.
  • Reward your child at the end of the month for collecting the information.
  • Discuss the career with him or her.
Ask your child the following questions:
  • Would you prefer to work alone or in a group?
  • Would you rather work inside or outside?
  • Would you prefer working during the day or during the night?
  • Would you mind wearing a uniform?
  • Would you like to make things or to sell things?
  • Would you rather travel or stay close to home?
  • Would you like to work with your hands?
  • Would you prefer to give directions or to follow direction?
  • Would you rather use communication skills or math skills?
Have your child interview you about your own school and career experiences when you were young. Your child might ask:
  • What were your favorite school subjects?
  • What did you like to do with your free time?
  • What career did you think about when you were young?
  • Did you follow the career path you dreamed about when you were young? Why or why not?
  • What obstacles were in the way of your career path?
  • What did your parents want you to do?
  • Who helped you make your career decision?
  • What did you learn in school that helped you the most?
  • What is your favorite thing about the work you do now?
  • What do you like least about the work you do now?
  • What skills did you learn in elementary school that you use in your work now?
  • What skills did you learn in elementary school that you use in your home life?
If you help your child think about careers from an early age, you can contribute greatly to his or her future success.