Weird, weird times. Whether, like me, you’re a ‘key worker’ but doing it from home (teaching), a furloughed worker, self-employed and waiting for good government news, or one of the many other reasons so many of us are home when we’re not ‘meant’ to be, you’re probably spending a HUGE amount of time with the children in your lives, either digitally or face-to-face. Lots of people are stressing about being a ‘teacher’ for their children. Don’t. You don’t need to be. You just NEED to keep them safe and well. If you’ve got time to do other things too, then great. Just in case you have, here are FIVE THINGS you could do to help kids think about their career options without being dry, dull or off-putting. I hope…
One – Who wears this?
Grab something – a toy hardhat, a white coat, a stethoscope. Could be something you use in your job, or a tool from the shed, or a plant, or a bottle of Calpol. Anything can be your prop. Play with it, talk about it, investigate it. Then ask:
Who do you think would use this at work?
Vary and stretch your answers. Go online and look at an image search for the item. Talk about lots of different ways an item can be used. Tie it to their interests and experiences. ‘Hey – do you remember when we took the cat to the vet? What were they wearing?’ ‘How about when we went to see the doctor about your earache. What were they wearing?’ And so on. When I did this game with Charlie, we used a white coat from his dressing-up box and we had SO MANY ANSWERS. It led to great roleplay too, where he set up his toys in a dog-grooming salon, then took them to the vet, then took them to his science lab where he investigated ‘space science’. A whole day can fly by, and you’ve opened their minds to a million new possibilities – all from one object.
Two – Key Workers.
We’re in unprecedented times for many of us, yes – but hasn’t it helped us to see what matters? Jobs really are at the forefront of a lot of our news right now, and we can take advantage of this to help our kids think about their futures too. Talk about what makes someone ‘key’ – are they surprised by the list? Are there jobs on there they’ve never heard of? You could try changing the situation. If this had been an earthquake, who do they think would be ‘key’ then? You could write thank yous to people who are keeping us going. You could make a poster for your window to show your support for refuse collectors or food delivery personnel (or teachers…) This is a great chance to talk about so many careers that go ‘unseen’ a lot of the time.
Three – Cooking.
When you cook, you can also talk about ingredients – how we get them, where they come from, how they’re made, who makes recipes, who designs packaging, who picks them, who grows them. These are all jobs in a huge chain that can end in something delicious you can share. Farmers, fruit-pickers, chefs, designers, technicians, scientists, cooker repairs, kitchen design – so many possibilities! Why not design your own packaging for something you’ve made? Or an advert for it? Or a recipe?
Four – Kim’s Game With A Twist.
Give them a job title – like ‘engineer’ or ‘scientist’ or ‘beautician’ or ‘fashion designer’ – and get them to run around the house and find a certain number of things to match that job title. Then you can talk about their choices – ‘Why do you think a _____________ would need this ___________?’ – and play Kim’s Game too. Cover their finds with a cloth and get them to name what’s on the tray. Then take something away and see if they can tell what’s missing. They can use the items they found for more roleplay too.
Five – Go Online.
There are so many wonderful resources online, and we’d be silly to ignore them. From Joe Wicks (who opens up all kinds of conversations about the health industry, sports science, nutrition, etc.) to Maddie Moate (who’s broadcasting live from home with her science-y partner during isolation), to our own videos here at 1001jobs, you can watch together and talk about what you see. For smalls, the excellent Biggleton showcases a huge range of jobs, and Kids’ YouTube is full of exciting videos of every aspect of the world of work. You could have a ‘theme’ day where you look at engineering, or caring, or creating. Begin the day with a little search through YouTube to see people doing their jobs, then set that for the rest of the day – art, crafts, maths, science, English, Modern Foreign Languages – whatever you like, tie it to that career area for the day.
I hope I’ve given you some ideas you can fill your days with a little. Don’t forget, you’re the biggest resource for your child of all! Talk about your job; talk about your past jobs; talk about your hopes; talk about why you ended up with the job you have. Be honest and open. Let them see the world of work as somewhere varied, vibrant and, above all, full of choice and opportunity.