6 Tips to Help You Prepare Your Child to Choose a Career

As a child, I loved pretending to be a teacher. But despite my love of teaching, I never expressed a desire to pursue teaching as a profession. In fact, it was the exact opposite. Specifically, I stated that I never wanted to be a teacher—ever.

I don’t really know why I was so opposed to teaching. It could have something to do with the fact that my parents were both teachers. I watched how hard they worked, how they never seemed to have time off. They carted home papers to grade, lesson plans to write, and stories of difficult students and a failing public education system.

Sounded delightful. No thank you!

Instead, I chose to earn a master’s degree in guidance counseling. I worked for a few years as an administrative coordinator in a private school. While I enjoyed my studies and my work, I floundered for awhile, unsure of my purpose and always searching for a job that suited me better. The irony is that I did eventually end up becoming a teacher—just not in the traditional sense.

Prepare Our Kids for Jobs Yet to be Created

Yes, I’m a homeschool mom, which obviously means I do some teaching. But when I say I’m a teacher, I don’t mean homeschooling; I mean blogging.

Through my writing, I invest multiple hours a week teaching. I teach moms how to declutter, how to let go of mom guilt, and how to do relaxed homeschooling. Now, I am doing professionally what I played at in my earliest years. I wish I had known sooner that there are many ways to teach.

But this job didn’t exist when I was playing teacher. We live in a modern, ever-changing world. When my father was an assistant principal, his boss often said, “We are training kids for careers that don’t even exist yet.” As homeschoolers, we have more opportunities than the average parent to observe and to guide our kids into a successful and fulfilling career. Let’s use those opportunities wisely.

1. Observe Your Kids

What do they love to do? How do they prefer to spend free time? What activities do they gravitate towards? The answers to these questions will be helpful later on, especially when paired with the information you discover in the next tip.

2. Help Your Kids Figure Out Their Personalities

Why is personality important in job choice? Here's an example. My husband is a civil engineer. He loved math, science, and solving problems growing up, so engineering seemed like a great choice. Except it’s not. While he doesn’t hate his job, it is extremely stressful and not ideal. Why? It turns out that administrative tasks make up 50% of engineering. He also is an extreme introvert and the amount of interaction he has at his local office drains him.

Had he known all that engineering entails and his personality, he could have made a better-informed decision. Need help understanding your child’s personality? Reading People by Ann Bogel and Nurture by Nature by Paul D. Tieger can help you get started.

3. Talk About Jobs

Make a point of describing different jobs you come across in everyday life. There’s no denying that every job has its fair share of mundane tasks and difficult challenges. Make sure they are aware of those dynamics. Our kids need to understand that no job is perfect, lest they spend their entire lives searching for one that is. Obviously, you can’t expose your child to all possible jobs, but you can raise their awareness that there are hundreds of possibilities.

4. Keep Track of What They Play and How They Play with Others

6 Tips to Help You Prepare Your Child to Choose a CareerWhat roles do they automatically assume in a group? How do they interact with others? Do they silently observe and process before contributing or do they jump in and take charge? Are they a support to a leader instead of leading? Are they eager to try a new and different way, or do they tend to stick to what’s already been done—what is known? Does too much activity and conversation overwhelmed them, or do they thrive on it?

5. Help Your Children Pursue Their Interests

If your child expresses interest in learning a skill, pursue it, but with different degrees of investment depending on her age. For example, if your five-year-old wants to learn how to sew, don’t walk out and buy a sewing machine tomorrow. Instead, pick up a kit with beginner sewing cards with a large plastic needle and yarn.

Interests are fleeting at young ages especially (and that’s okay). As children approach the teen/tween years, their true, sustained passions become increasingly evident, and you confidently invest more resources in developing them.

6. Start an Ongoing Conversation

Instead of making suggestions or blanket statements, let your child talk to you about what he’s passionate about. All those observations? Use them to give feedback after your child has shared. Use open-ended questions instead of statements. For example, instead of saying, “You really like to draw. Maybe you’ll be an artist one day!”, you could say, “I’ve noticed that you spend a lot of time drawing—what do you like about drawing?” You might be surprised by his response.

Making Peace with an Unknown Future

You cannot guarantee that your kids will choose a career that perfectly marries their passions, personalities, and strengths. But you can do everything in your power to help them figure out those three things. What they do with that knowledge will be up to them.

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About the Author

june doranJune loves deep discussions about homeschooling, parenting, and minimalism. When she’s not homeschooling, decluttering, or blogging at This Simple Balance, she loves to enjoy perfect silence while sipping a hot cup of coffee and thinking uninterrupted thoughts—which, of course, with four kids ages eight and under doesn’t happen very often!