This post is Part 1 in a 3-part series about helping your homeschool child choose a career. Here are the topics in this series:
Part 1: What are the options? Employee vs. Employer
Part 2: What career is the best fit? Exploring career fields
Part 3: What can parents do to help? A paradigm shift in education
How soon should your child start thinking seriously about what he wants to do as a career? High school? Should he wait until he’s been to college a couple of years so he can explore his options?
Bring up the subject early and often
Some might disagree with me, but I think you should encourage your child to think seriously about what type of career he wants to pursue as early as junior high. That's not to say that your child needs to decide 100% for sure what he is going to do, but he needs to start thinking about it.
Children who wait too late in their school career to give serious consideration to their career options waste years of opportunities to increase their skills and experience in their chosen field. And waiting until college before considering options? That’s rife with risk and something I would avoid almost at all costs.
My first suggestion for helping your child choose a career is simply to talk about it. And talk about it a lot. Don’t mention it once in passing and then never bring it up again; make his future career choice an ongoing topic of discussion. The more options you consider and the more time your child has to think through things, the better able he’ll be to narrow down his field of choices.
As you probably know already, teens usually don’t think about preparing for the future very willingly. They resist when we remind them they are nearing adulthood and will soon be taking on adult responsibilities.
But it’s not just teens who resist; I’ve even had other adults tell me that I need to let my teens enjoy their childhood, that it’s wrong for me to force them to think about adulthood yet.
But I disagree. Strongly.
Teens do need to be thinking about and preparing for adulthood, and preparing for adulthood doesn’t have to mean that they’re not able to enjoy their childhood.
Employee vs. Employer or Entrepreneur
As parents, we tend to encourage our children to follow this path: 1) graduate from high school, then 2) go to college so they can 3) get a good job where they’ll be employees. And while there's nothing wrong with that, we often neglect to mention the other possibility—that our children could strive to become employers, to be entrepreneurs.
I’m an entrepreneur myself, so I'm a huge advocate of entrepreneurism.
This is especially true when it comes to my daughters.
Some might think I'm sexist when I say this, but the truth of the matter is if my daughters want to stay home with their own children someday, many "normal" careers are incompatible with that. Sure, there is the possibility that their husbands may make enough to allow them to stay home with their children, but if that's not the case, then they would need to have the ability to make money from home. When my daughters and I discuss their future career choices, we factor that in. I encourage them to think about careers that would allow them to work from home.
So when you discuss careers with your children, don't forget to talk about the possibility of becoming an entrepreneur. Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur, but it would be a shame if someone who does have the skills never gets the chance to put those into practice because they didn't know it was a legitimate option.
For some great information about how to raise your children as entrepreneurs, watch this TED.com video below. (If you are reading this via feed reader or email, you may need to click through to this post to watch the video.)