How to help kids succeed and discover their dream job from an early age
Whilst kids only ever used to think about their career after school, even primary school children are now being asked to decide which path they want to follow, at a time when even the thought of secondary school seems like a lifetime away.
So what can parents do?
We’re not advocating making kids choose their career as soon as they leave nursery – but it is important to make sure children are aware of their options and can choose school subjects accordingly when the time comes.
With kids being asked to choose their career earlier than ever, we ask our expert Dr Gummer for advice on how parents can help put kids on the path to success and choose hobbies and school subjects for their dream job, here’s her top tips:
1. Give children opportunities to experience lots of different activities as possible when they're young to try and find things that really spark a passion or talent. Think outside of the box too, with the Olympics putting a range of sports in the spotlight even kids who hate most sports can enjoy handball or cycling.
2. Don’t let your preferences lead them too much. Whilst it’s natural for parents who loved maths or science at school to push kids towards more logical subjects, make sure kids get to try a wide variety and make up their own minds. Last week we spoke about a number of Parents Pushing Kids To Live Their dreams – so be careful!
3. Encourage children to choose subjects they really enjoy at GCSE rather than thinking too hard about their careers, but make sure they keep the doors open if they show signs of wanting to follow a particular career path. For example if a child wants to be a doctor when they grow up, they should enjoy biology. If he/she likes biology, then they'll be more likely to do well at it and get into a good med school. If he/she doesn't like biology, he/she is unlikely to succeed at med school – so maybe it’s time to think about what they do enjoy and plan a career from that.
4. Invest time and effort in helping kids getting solid results in core subjects of maths and English - a lot of doors are shut to people who don't have these.
5. Don't automatically push children down the university route - encourage them to find a career they love and, with a good work ethic, they'll be more likely to succeed at it. It’s also important not to create too much pressure for them to achieve your goals. A child who grows up thinking university is the only path for them could feel pressured to follow this, even if it isn’t their first choice.
6. Help develop a strong work ethic from an early age, this is going to help them no matter what path they want to follow. Introduce this by encouraging them to earn pocket money, help around the house and get part time jobs. Unpaid experience can be really beneficial so try to encourage this whilst you’re still supporting them as it can get much harder to do once they’re older.
7. Ask other adults to talk to your children about their jobs and offer work experience where possible - the more teenagers experience work, the better prepared they'll be. It can also be useful for giving them other role models, rather than just showing them what their parents do.
8. Keep as many options open for as long as possible, but by the time it gets to Uni, it's reasonable to expect a teenager to have some idea of the sort of job they want to get after they finish their studies. It can be tempting for kids to head to university just ‘for the experience’ with little idea of what their degree can actually bring them. For that reason, try to discourage doing a low-ranking degree at a third rate institution just to get a degree, as work experience and an apprenticeship are likely to be more beneficial in terms of later careers.
8. If your child is set on university try and arrange for them to speak to someone in their field of work. Also, do your own research and see what qualifications or experience certain employers are looking for. It’s important to see what is expected, as extra studies, hours of unpaid experience or further qualifications could all be required and could catch teens as a surprise.
9. Speak to older children about doing apprenticeships and possibly gaining further qualifications whilst they’re in work, with day release schemes for example. This can help manage cash flow whilst still learning new skills and can work especially well during sixth form or college.
10. DON’T push your children into careers that you think they should have - it's their life and over half of it will be spent working so life will be so much easier and better for the children if they find a job they enjoy.
What career path does your child want to go down? Do you think enough is done to try and teach kids about all the options they can have?