Understanding the world of workIt is never too early to begin observing the adult world. The adult world involves a number of interrelated life roles. As an adult, each of us acts as an individual, a learner, a producer, a consumer, a family member, and a citizen. Understanding the world of work is important for preparing for all of these life roles. It is critical to formulating a career plan.
Understanding the world of work follows closely with the stages of career development. First, your children need to be aware of it. Later, they explore it through investigation and experience, relating it to their own interests, values, skills, and plans. Once they become participants in the world of work, they continue to keep informed in order to actively manage their careers. As a parent, understanding the world of work supports your children, but it also helps you in your own career development.
Awareness of the world of workYoung children should learn that there are many options in the world of work. To see how aware your children are, you might want to ask them to write down all of the jobs they can name. You should not be surprised if they can name only 10 or 15. The jobs that they know will probably be ones they see at school or among immediate family members. Then, during daily activities, point out people at work, talking about what they do, where they might work, and what their jobs might be called. After six months, ask your children to once again name the jobs that they know. If they can name more - and don't be surprised if it is considerably more - you will have helped them in their career awareness!
You can also help your children learn how education is connected to careers. For example:
- When visiting the veterinarian for your pet, talk about how the vet uses math skills to calculate the amount of medicine the pet will need.
- While reading the newspaper, talk about the writing skills used by reporters to compose newspaper articles.
- While watching a show about nature on television, discuss the science used in studying the life forms being shown.
Your children's interests provide excellent motivators for awareness. You can focus some of your discussions by beginning with your children's interests. Talk about their interest in general and then point out how the interest relates to activities that adults do. 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, talk about what accountants, computer programmers, engineers, and statisticians do. Also remind your child that almost all careers use basic math, so it is a very important subject.
- If your child likes to keep others safe, talk about careers such as a police officer, a forensic scientist, a detective, an investigator, a parole officer, or a security guard.