Very few children can make an intelligent career choice at 14. Yet often, preparatory coaching for the IIT-JEE begins as early as age 12. Early streaming makes children choose from a limited number of career options when hundreds and thousands of choices are available today. Children need to be made more aware of career paths available before choosing specialisations and subjects in high school.
Encourage career awareness
Make children aware about different career choices and opportunities. You could talk about journalists, event planners, HR managers, civil engineers, artists, animators, pilots, sportsmen, software engineers and entrepreneurs. This may require researching the internet, but its worth the effort.
Encourage children to talk to family friends and relatives about their work and what exactly they do. Even preschoolers can do this, to slowly begin to understand the world of work. As they grow up, children get a clearer picture of work options in different fields.
Analyse your child
What does your child like? What are her dominant personality traits? What are her skills? Is she good at communicating and meeting people? Or does she enjoy sitting and figuring things out on a computer? What are her favourite subjects, and favourite activities? Analysing your childs skills will help you discover career interests that will work for her. Once you know her aptitude, you can provide additional information about related careers.
Encourage children to spend time with friends to learn on the job, trying out small things. Accompanying an aunt who is a photographer, or spending time at a beauty parlour or office will help them get an idea of how things work. This may not always be possible, but can be done, especially in small organisations.
Movies and television programmes which highlight different careers can also be useful. Books like Small business, Big Vision and Kidpr-eneurs are great for wannabe entrepreneurs.
The A day in the life… series from Rosen Publishing highlights a range of professions for children of different ages in K-12 schools.
For older children, you could check out 101 Great Careers for the 21st Century published by Education World. The internet also offers a plethora of information about numerous careers and related study programmes.