Career Corner

  • Welcome to the Career Corner — a way for parents of elementary students to get quick information about career exploration. Elementary is the perfect age to start teaching children about career awareness. It is important that children become aware of how schooling is connected to a successful future. At this age, parents can help their children discover the variety of jobs available, connect what is learned in school to real-world situations, imagine and play a variety of occupations, and develop work-readiness skills such as working and playing with others, developing a positive attitude, making decisions, problem-solving, responsibility, and punctuality.

    Source: America’s Career Resource Network

  • Breaking Gender Barriers in the Career World

    Posted by Counselor Mitchell Cloud on 2/1/2019

    Students commonly develop a belief that some jobs are only for boys or are only for girls. An important aspect of preparing students for future career opportunities is teaching that men and women can do the same work. Your student has probably experienced different fields of work where the gender gap is apparent — elementary school teachers, professional sports players, nurses, doctors, construction workers, police, firefighters, etc. These experiences may lead your student to believe that they shouldn’t pursue their interest in certain fields because of their gender. However, your student’s interests, hobbies, skills, and dreams can lead them to pursue any career in any field, regardless of gender. In general, there are no careers that only women can have and no careers that only men can have.

    There are important positions that have not yet to break through gender barriers. A growth mindset encourages students to believe that they can pursue any career regardless of their gender. There are still many firsts to be accomplished and a determined young person someday will be the first to break those barriers.

    Providing concrete examples of men and women doing a variety of work can help enhance and expand students’ belief about their future opportunities. These books provide a variety of engaging stories and images of men and women affecting their world in dramatic ways:

    • “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls” by Elena Favilli and Frencesca Cavallo
    • “Stories for Boys Who Dare to be Different” by Ben Brooks and Quinton Wintor

    These ideas, resources, and reinforcing a growth mindset in your student will help encourage the belief that they can do and be anything!

    cover images for books

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  • Exploring Variety of Careers

    Posted by Counselor Jennifer Cullen on 1/4/2019

    As your child beings to develop career awareness, variety and exposure is the key. Take them on field trips to see jobs in actions. Help your child see how their specific interests can lead to a variety of career paths. Encourage them to explore their strengths, interests, and values. This will boost awareness of careers outside their immediate family, and help them see the link between the skills they are learning at school and a successful future.  Two great websites to explore are U.S. Government Information and Resources and Virginia Career View. Students and parents can discover career paths they didn’t even know existed!


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  • Career Awareness

    Posted by Counselor Emmie Kennicott on 11/30/2018

    One of my favorite ways to teach career awareness to young children is to ask them to describe a project they recently completed in class. Most can easily think of a writing assignment, book report, or research project.

    “What skills did you need?” I ask. I usually get answers like “We needed to read the book” or “We drew a picture of our animal in its habitat,” but with prompting, children can dig into the skills behind the skills, such as listening, following step-by-step instructions, and being flexible if they didn’t get their first choice of topic.

    After we’ve listed all the skills they can think of, the children and I have fun discussing made-up scenarios in which a worker doesn’t use some of the skills the children are learning. What skills didn’t the worker use? What might go wrong? This gives me a chance to emphasize that the skills they are learning right now, from planning ahead to asking for clarification when they don’t understand, will help them in the jobs they have someday. Parents can have similar discussions with their children, drawing their attention to skills they are developing now that help you succeed in your own job.

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  • Overcoming Struggles

    Posted by Counselor Jennifer Cullen on 10/31/2018 1:35:00 PM

    Elementary school is the perfect time to dream big about the future. Parents can talk to their children early and often about how to set and reach goals. They can help children understand that goal setting and hard work are essential in success. Parents might share personal stories of struggles that were overcome. Work together to develop problem-solving skills with when the child reaches a point of difficulty. Help children by demonstrating grit and embracing the fear of failure.

    The following are some ideas to help parents support their students as they experience some of life’s tough lessons:

    • Encourage your children to find something they are passionate about. Help them understand that practice, hard work, and perseverance are the surest way to achievement.
    • Help your child establish a “growth mindset.” People with a growth mindset are more likely to push through struggle because they understand that hard work is part of the process and failure is not a permanent condition.
    • Take risks and step out of your comfort zone. Let children see that failure is a part of success.
    • Teach your child that failure is not the end. Don’t let your protective instincts rob your child of valuable learning experiences.

    Working together to build confidence and optimism will help children power through low moments and become intentional in the quest for their goals. 

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  • Insight Inventories

    Posted by Counselor Mindy Wells on 10/1/2018

    Parents of elementary school-aged children don’t often spend time thinking about career paths for their children.  However, helping a child take regular inside insights can benefit them for a successful life-launch after high school.

    “Inside insights” is a term coined by Dr. Mel Levine in his book “Ready or Not, Here Life Comes” (Simon & Schuster, 2005). Dr. Levine describes the importance of helping children discover their strengths and interests, both inside and outside of school, as well as identifying things they aren’t so good at or things they don’t really like. He suggests completing this exercise regularly with the child and then adjusting to the changes based upon their discoveries about themselves. While it is tempting to enroll a child in activities based upon what their social crowd is doing or what you liked to do as a child, it is most important to really know the child and to help him or her discover the unique combinations of personal strengths and challenges to guide them on a journey of personal discovery.

    It is never too early to help a child know themselves and help them to have experiences that are unique to their own personal profile. Using self-reflection to process life’s successes and failures is a skill that will serve them well throughout their life. To get started, use these three prompts:

    • Things I Do Well in School: academic (reading, writing, math, social studies, etc.) and non-academic (share, handle my emotions, organization, work and play well with others, etc.)
    • Things I Do Well Outside of School (take care of pets, dance, investigate nature, cook, sports, etc.)
    • Things or Kinds of Things I’m Not So Good at or Like (both inside and outside of school)

    The elementary school years are an important time to build essential skills that will help children eventually be successful in any career path they choose in the future!

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  • Picture Book Discussion of Careers

    Posted by Counselor Tisha Halfert on 8/8/2018

    cover of Snowmen at Work book "Snowmen At Work" by Caralyn Buehner is a great picture book to discuss different occupations in the community. After reading the book, it’s fun to point out different workers in your community. You can discuss what they do at their job, what tools they use, what education they might have to have and even vehicles that might be involved in their job.

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  • Making a Daily Schedule

    Posted by Webmaster on 6/6/2018

    Summertime is a great time to help children with career-related skills. Here’s an activity parents can do with their children.

    Have children make a schedule for their day. Planning is a life skill and the ability to plan is something that can be learned. Ask the child to plan a family fun day and plan a regular day. Have children plan each hour starting with the time they wake up until their bedtime. A sample schedule could look like this:

    • 7:00 a.m.: Wake up
    • 8:00 a.m.: Get dressed and make bed
    • 9:00 a.m.: Leave for summer camp
    • 10:00 a.m.: Play with friends at summer camp
    • 11:00 a.m.: Do art class
    • 12:00 p.m.: Lunch time
    • 1:00 p.m.: Swim
    • 2:00 p.m.: Swim
    • 3:00 p.m.: Snack and play time
    • 4:00 p.m.: Mom picks up from camp
    • 5:00 p.m.: Play with friends
    • 6:00 p.m.: Supper
    • 7:00 p.m.: Bath time
    • 8:00 p.m.: Story time and bedtime


    Once children are able to plan their schedule, parents should talk about their own job and job schedule. This helps students know how adults use a schedule and plan in their job. In August, parents can talk about their child’s school schedule and some of the ways planning can help them in school.

    For more information or for more activities for the summer, visit Vocational Information Center's Career Exploration Guides and Resources for Younger Children. The site lists many different career activities for students, including coloring pages and occupation-specific sites.

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