How to Help Your Kids Discover Their Interest and Future Careers
Jun 21, 2012
Is it too early to begin thinking about your child's future career? Whether you have a toddler, tween or teen, it's never too early to begin cultivating interests that might one day turn into a career. So what can you do to steer your child in what is hopefully the right direction?
As a parent, you should assume an active role in developing your children's interests. Starting at a young age, take them to museums, art galleries, zoos, historical sites and even to the theater. Visit other states and even other countries, if your budget allows. Enroll them in summer camps and have them sign up for as many activities as possible.
Show them what you're interested in; this can help them to discover if they are interested in those things, too. Have them sit with you while you watch a sporting event, or have them help you cook dinner. If possible, take them to work with you and show them what you do. Who knows, they might just want to follow in your footsteps!
Even if you're not cultivating a specific interest, you can't go wrong by starting your kids off young when it comes to the development of writing, reading, math and computer skills. Nearly any type of career they are likely to choose will incorporate some if not all of these abilities.
Perhaps the single most important thing you can do is encourage your child: expose them to many different things and see what they express an interest in. Pay particular attention to what they like to do, discuss or collect.
Encourage your child to write down goals. Have them identify things they would like to learn or try. Then, go over the list with them and help them achieve these goals. For instance, if they have a goal to learn to play the piano, arrange for them to take lessons. If they express the desire to do better in a certain subject at school, set up some tutoring sessions.
For older kids, encourage them to find a summer job in an area that interests them. Kids who like to work with younger ones, for example, might get a job at a summer camp. Also encourage them to volunteer, join an apprenticeship program or work with a mentor.
Let your kids dream, and dream big, when it comes to their future careers.
Maybe they have a love of acting and see themselves as movie stars. Perhaps they play some community- or school-based sports and envision themselves as star athletes. Or maybe they see guitar lessons as the first step toward a career as a rock star.
Sure, these things might be unlikely, but always be in his or her corner. It's likely that these things will change, anyway; their love for baseball today just might turn into a love for electrical engineering or the study of medicine tomorrow. As Joan McLean, Ohio Wesleyan University's associate dean for academic advising, told The New York Times in 2009: 'I think finding out what you don't want to do is as important as finding out what you do want to do.'
But no matter what their life goals are and how many times those goals change, always encourage them to do well in school, make time for their interests, cultivate new ones and pursue any potential career path with passion and reasonable expectations. Then it's all up to them. You can rest easy knowing that you did whatever you could to point them in the right direction; from there, it's up to them to start walking.
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