How to Encourage Your Child To Pursue a Career

How to Cultivate Career Curiosity in Kids

Summary: Learn about the importance of starting career exploration at any early age and how parents can help encourage children to choose a career.

What did you dream of being when you were a child? An astronaut zooming through the galaxy or maybe a baseball player smashing a grand slam? These are the kinds of exciting experiences I often hear my seven-year-old son dream up when he talks about the future. However, as children grow up, these early career aspirations start to evolve. Our children become more self-aware, learning about their own strengths and interests. And with a little guidance from us and their teachers, they can begin to develop skills that will open a range of career possibilities, helping them choose a career that truly fulfills them.

While our abilities and a little luck can play a role in what opportunities become available, the truth is that much of our future is shaped by the choices we make. That’s why it’s important to have conversations about potential career paths with our children, even starting at a young age. Matt Swain, with the K12-powered online schools’ career and college prep program shared, “By introducing the importance of career exploration early on, parents can help their children develop their strengths, spark their interests, and discover career fields they may be interested in pursuing in a meaningful way.”

Career Curiosity and Discovery in Elementary School

Elementary school experiences, both inside and outside the classroom, play an important role in fostering curiosity and exploration of the world around them. These activities can help them discover industries and careers they find interesting. Here are a few ways to start these important conversations with your young child:

  • Visit a fire station, farm, zoo, aquarium, or art museum, or attend a live performance at a local theater.
  • Talk about the various professionals that you and your child encounter throughout the day, including teachers, doctors, dentists, construction workers, police officers, restaurant servers, or librarians.
  • Attend a virtual field trip to learn about different jobs. Check out K12’s virtual library of on-demand field trips that share exciting experiences like visiting a toucan rescue ranch or exploring the daily adventures of a New Mexico beekeeper!

Career Investigation and Exploration in Middle School

During middle school, children develop by leaps and bounds, becoming more independent and self-aware. They begin to recognize their own abilities and develop interests in different skills and hobbies. Here is how you can use this time of growth to help your child start to decide on a career:

  • Encourage them to participate in extracurricular activities they may enjoy like science fairs, STEM camps, art competitions, sports, dance, theater, and volunteer opportunities.
  • Help them access career and strength assessments to identify career paths that align with their skills and personality traits. K12 offers a short quiz which creates a personality profile and suggests career options for students to explore.
  • Look into career investigation courses offered at your child’s school. Many online schools offer a broad array of career exploration electives that focus on industries such as business, healthcare, agriculture, and engineering.

Career Preparation in High School

In high school, it’s important for students to start seriously thinking about their future. Here are some ways to help your child refine their career aspirations and take important steps toward a successful path:

  • Determine what kind of college and career prep opportunities are available at your child’s school and encourage them to use those resources. K12-powered online schools, for instance, offer more than 30 career pathways that teach students specialized skills through relevant courses alongside their regular curriculum.
  • Encourage your child to get real-world experience through a part-time job, an internship, volunteering, or job-shadowing.
  • Explore dual enrollment opportunities at their school, which allows students to work toward certifications and college credit, helping them get a jumpstart on their future career.

Lastly, talk to them about your jobs and work experience. While your skills and interests may differ from theirs, your experiences can help guide them as they take important steps and begin preparing for their future.

To learn more about K12-powered online schools, go to

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