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When I grow up I want to be….

Have you asked your child what they want to be when they grow up? It can be a fun exercise! Sometimes you’ll get imaginative answers like “I want to be a mermaid” or “I want to be a super hero” or you’ll get aspirational answers like “I want to be a teacher, like Mrs. Smith” or “I want to be a chef because I love baking”.

Imaginative answers often have more truth to them than you might realize. For instance, why does your daughter want to be a super hero? Asking her may lead to her motivation for that career. Perhaps she wants to be able to help people when they are in trouble. That could lead you to a discussion of the kinds of jobs that people have where they do just that – whether it is a firefighter, a paramedic, a police officer or a lawyer. For the child who wants to be mermaid, perhaps they are inspired by careers that relate to being on, in or near the water.

The aspirational answers usually relate to a child having a connection with an adult who is in that career or profession. He wants to be a teacher because Mrs. Smith has motivated and encouraged him, and he’d like to do the same for other children. She may want to be a chef because she’s watched her grandmother prepare meals that everyone raves about. Having these conversations with your child can help them see how their aspirations might be achieved.

Another interesting discussion topic might be to share how you landed in your career, what was the path, how did you get to where you are today. This could be a natural follow up to “what do you want to be”, share with your child what you wanted to be when you were their age – how did that change? Where or what did you do after high school that lead you to this career/job? What do you like most about what you do? Sharing with your child your journey also helps them understand more about how education can be part of their journey.

Bottom line –  no matter what your child wants to be or how often they change their minds about their future goals, it is really important that they understand and embrace the need for education after high school to get there. Weaving that message into your discussions will help children to begin to aspire to and think about the role of education in helping them face their future. It can be simple “did you know that there are programs and courses at community colleges that can train you to be a paramedic?” or “teachers ARE awesome, and did you know that to be a teacher you get to spend time at a university or college learning more about how you can help other students to learn”? and, “I had such a good time when I went to college, I learned a lot, made great friends, and it helped me get to where I wanted to be”.

Start the conversation today and visit MyAlfondGrant.org for more helpful resources, tips and fun activities for children of any age.