Begin early in their lives by reading books to them and talking about the different people in their world. There are many children’s toys that help them match characters to the jobs they have.
When they begin to show interest in different things, name the people who specialize in that topic, talk about where they work and what they had to do to become an expert in that area. Take them to an area where these professionals work. Make it a fieldtrip and talk about what they learned while on the fieldtrip.
Trips to the library to access books on a topic of interest are a great way to further their knowledge. Public Television often broadcasts shows featuring their topics of interest. If you live in a community that has a Children’s Museum, that is a wonderful learning experience and often features traveling events focusing on specific topics.
As children get older and advance in their education, continue to build their knowledge and experiences by talking and reading about different topics of interest. Help them identify what they are personally interested in and good at doing. Always include what it takes to become an expert in these areas.
Connect them with people who spend their careers working in these areas. Encourage them to talk with them about the demands and the rewards of the job. If possible have them spend a day on the job with this person. All of their senses can become involved in the environment of this career.
Do not dash their dreams but help them be realistic about their abilities and how they may need to work harder in some areas to qualify for the career they want. Be supportive. Realize that often career choices change with experience and education. Some young people need to find their way at different speeds or in response to life events. As long as they continue to move forward toward a goal, offer the emotional support that only a parent can do.
Choosing a career is like tossing a coin sometimes, you never know what you will end up with. A lot of choices are available today and this can create confusion and sometimes it overwhelms kids. I would start by researching different jobs and interests and have then write down some thoughts about it.
Hello and thank you for asking this question on JustAsk!
As a parent of college aged children, I can tell you that the process of choosing the right college and/or career can be a "whole family experience"!
Some things that we found to be beneficial was to have our children become involved in career days at school and take your child to work days. My husband works for an organization that has many people working together from different fields, such as engineering, marketing, etc. Also, we would try and have conversations at dinner to see what piqued their interest recently. Could a book, a chat with a teacher or something else spark their interest. Our son discovered his love of forensic psychology from watching documentaries on television, going online to investigate the field and then matching his interests with schools he found on Collegeboard.com (And for those who are reading, he never saw TV forensic dramas until after he made his choice!)
Hope this answer helps you.
Louise Masin Sattler, NCSP
Nationally Certified School Psychologist