Having career conversations with your child

mum and teacher at school speaking to smiling young boy

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” is one of the most common questions kids are asked, yet how often do parents actually discuss careers with their children? It’s an easy thing to brush aside – “they’re too young for that, there’s plenty of time…” – but the reality is, what someone wants to do with their life, albeit at a young age, is a conversation worth having. 

Consider their interests and strengths

It’s not as black and white as finding out what job they want to have in the future. Based on their interests and strengths, you can start to build an idea of what they will enjoy doing and what they might be good at. Are they strong in mathematics and science, or a gifted creative writer? Do they get restless in the classroom, preferring to work with their hands outdoors, or do they showcase emotional intelligence beyond their years? Identifying interests and strengths is a great starting point when considering the types of extracurricular activities your child may enjoy.

Weaknesses are just as important

You might have dreamed of your son growing up to be a heart surgeon, but if they have no interest in science and are more into building or drama, odds are you are going to be up against it - riding them to achieve this goal, particularly when it isn’t their own, doesn’t benefit anyone. 

This is where choosing the right education for your child is so important. Just because a prestigious private school is renowned for producing great ATAR results, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is the ideal fit, especially if your child is really passionate about pursuing a trade. Of course, for those hoping to study the likes of law, medicine and veterinary science at university, they will likely need a very high score and it might just be the right place for them. 

Keeping the conversation open

The reasoning behind having these career conversations early on isn’t so that a child’s life is set in stone, rather it is to ensure they don’t wind up at a school where their interests and goals are not aligned with the curriculum. The last thing you want is to enrol your child into a school that isn’t conducive to their style of learning and disrupt their education.

If your child is in their final years of schooling, The Good Universities Guide and The Good Careers Guide are excellent resources for making decisions about the future.

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