The lifelong process of career development begins as early as four years old. In these early years, you can begin to instill hope and confidence about the future by helping your children discover themselves and the world around them.
The awareness stage involves discovery, imagination, and curiosity. Young children are fascinated by everyday things. They want to know more about things they observe in their families, their communities, and the world. Many of their interests are displayed in career fantasies. They enjoy imitating the adult world. You play a vital role in encouraging your children through play and dress up, reading and talking, exploring and learning.
Why is it important to start early?
It is never too early to begin talking to your children about their gifts, talents, and interests. Your children will do better in school if they believe that they can be successful in the activities they do. At the elementary level, the major career-related activities should focus on:
- Development of a positive attitude about learning and doing;
- Development of skills to make decisions; and
- Knowledge of the broad characteristics and expectations of work.
What should my elementary child be able to do?
Here are 10 important career skills your children can develop during their elementary years:
- Identify their interests, likes, and dislikes.
- Describe their strengths and talents.
- Demonstrate positive behaviors and personal characteristics, such as honesty, dependability, responsibility, integrity, and loyalty.
- Recognize that one should accept responsibility for one’s behavior.
- Interact with others in a fair, helpful, and respectful way.
- Recognize that people have many life roles and that these need to be balanced.
- Demonstrate study skills and good learning habits.
- Be able to set goals and work toward achieving them.
- Describe different ways to make decisions.
- Recognize a variety of skills that are important for success in school and work, such as communicating, critical thinking, problem solving, and interpersonal skills.
These skills cover some of the most important indicators included in the National Career Development Guidelines for the awareness developmental stage. The guidelines describe what children and adults should understand and be able to do at various stages of their career development. They include specific goals and learning indicators grouped by the three principle domains:
- Personal and Social Development
- Educational Achievement and Lifelong Learning
- Career Management
This framework may help you think about the types of activities you do or can do to help with career awareness during elementary school years. (It is also reflected in the content of this website.)