Career Exploration Activities for Kids
If you ask your children when they’re young, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”you’ll likely get a list limited only by their imaginations: princess, pirate, doctor, teacher, police detective. Over time, they might narrow their list, influenced largely by careers encountered through family, friends, school, and the media.
As parents, Learning Coaches, and teachers, we need to consciously expose our children to careers that may lie outside our own experience. How do we do that? Well, it’s easier than you might think! Keep reading to learn more about possible career exploration activities for your kids.
Online Career Exploration Opportunities for Younger Students
For elementary and middle school students, interactive online games are a great way to have fun while exploring traditional and nontraditional careers.
Kidswork, from South Carolina’s public education station ETV, digs a little deeper into the inner workings for a range of careers. Choosing any business in ETV’s cartoon town, students can watch short video interviews with the people who work there; perform related job tasks; and learn some of the history behind various fields.
While maintaining its fun factor, Kidswork is great for connecting classroom skills to real-world jobs in small doses. In this game, your student can use math to fill prescriptions as a pharmacist; practice writing slogans as a public relations specialist; and match electrical circuits as a theatrical lighting designer.
Using Government Resources for Career Ideas
Kids.gov, the US government’s official web portal for kids, provides an A–Z listing and links to more than 50 different career videos as well as interviews, games, and general career information. But watch out! This site is so rich in resources that you and your student could spend hours exploring everything from careers in brain imaging to police dog training.
CareerOneStop, a US Department of Labor site, offers more than 500 career videos grouped by skills and areas such as industry, interest clusters, and educational requirements. Click on the Finance section, for example, and you’ll find links to videos explaining jobs ranging from actuary to teller.
Alternatively, high school students will probably find the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ information-packed career-exploration pages more useful. Organized by career clusters students will recognize from other career planning exercises, these pages contain salary, employment outlook, working conditions, and education requirements for thousands of job types.
Exploring List of Career Choices With Your High School Student
While online games are fun, hands-on activities and clubs can give students the chance to ask questions and explore their interests in more depth. Sitting down with your child and discussing possible career choices could help give you both an idea of future career opportunities. If you are having trouble knowing where to start, ask your child a few of the following questions:
- What are your two greatest academic strengths? List the two subjects in which you best perform academically—English, social studies, sciences, mathematics, computer science, etc. For the sciences and mathematics, be specific about the subject area or level—biology, chemistry, algebra, calculus, and so on.
- Which academic subjects interest you most? Add your top two favorite high school subjects to the list.
- What are your five greatest personal or social strengths? If you’re unsure about your strengths and abilities, ask your friends, parents, or teachers what they think. You can even show them the list below and ask them to pick those traits that best describe you. Your school counselor may also have aptitude tests that can help pinpoint your strengths.
Ask your child what interests, conditions, or rewards do they think will be most important in the career they have shown interest in? With some conscious effort, we can point our students to a breadth of career possibilities outside our own experience.
Does the exercise suggest you’re on the right track—or are there exciting new career options you should be exploring?