Careers Advice for Elementary School Students
Yes, you read that right – careers advice for elementary school students. There’s a growing school of thought that it’s never too early for children to have an understanding of the possibilities that await them in high school, college, and beyond. Indeed, there are many success stories pertaining to children who started successful businesses as kids.
While not every child is destined to be the next Rockefeller (or start a successful business in their teenage years for that matter), teachers should undoubtedly encourage forward thinking attitudes in children even when their best guess at their future career is along the lines of
“When I grow up, I’m going to be Spider Man”.
While it’s probably not the best course of action to tell a five year old girl just starting school that no, she probably won’t get to enjoy a future career as a princess, fast forward a few years and children nearing the end of their elementary school years are surely old enough and wise enough to understand that princess and superhero careers are unlikely. Wouldn’t it be wise to show them the sort of possibilities that can be achieved – to give them an understanding of just how important their high school years can be when it comes to their future life?
Children at the age of nine or ten are more than capable of having an idea of which careers may interest them as they get older, and it’s never a better time to give them some sage advice as right then. It’s not about limiting a child’s aspirations, it’s about discussing their options in a way that they understand. It’s about finding the best way forward for a particular child. There is no harm in telling the child that indicates an ambition to become a doctor at an early age that in order to do so will involve working hard at high school and then medical school. There’s equally no need to tell the child that is adamant about their desire to save damsels in distress while wearing a tight red suit to rethink their plans. It’s not about taking childhood away from those still living it by any means and it’s not about predetermining a child’s course in life before they even leave elementary school. It’s about helping those children who have a clear idea about what they want to do to understand what they personally need to do to get there, and it’s about encouraging those children who want to be Spider Man to still be a child, but perhaps look at what else they might do if the whole superhero thing doesn’t take off.
Helping children to understand that how hard “they” work and how much effort “they” put in to their studies will have an impact on their lives can be achieved tactfully without fear or reproach. It might be as simple as setting aside half an hour each week to look at different career choices, to perhaps have a real life doctor come into school and talk about what they had to do to get their job (parents can be a great source of different careers advice). Teachers might run a session where kids get to make their own resume that records all their skills and talents to date. At the very least, it will get them thinking and they will be more likely to enter high school with an understanding that their actions will make a difference.
Linda Forshaw is a Business Information Systems graduate from Lancaster University in the UK. A frequent contributor to Degree Jungle, she is a full time writer and blogger specializing in education, social media, and entrepreneurship. Contact her on Twitter @seelindaplay