What does your child want to be when they grow up? A doctor? A nurse? A firefighter? An astronaut? Whatever it is, now is the time to start exploring different professions. Ignite your kiddo’s imagination and get them thinking creatively, all while helping them explore the wide world of work.
From completely creative careers that are “out there” or fabulously fantastical, to the more down to Earth community helper jobs, you can join your child on the road to researching plenty of professions. Instead of lecturing your child on career options (they’ll get enough of that when they get to high school), keep things fun with children’s books, dress-up, and pretend play activities.
So, what can the two of you do together to explore your child’s inner professional? Check out these awesome activities for the pre-k set.
Books are the place to start. Find a few books at the local library about different jobs and the people who work in them. Look for kid-friendly reads that feature plenty of pictures. As you read the books with your child, ask them to tell you about which professions look the best to them and keep a running list of your kiddo’s faves. After narrowing down the search, get a few more books that focus on one or two of the chosen lines of work.
Now that your child has a job or two in mind, it’s time to get to the research. Okay, so your toddler or preschooler can’t exactly jump online and do some college-level searching. But the two of you can work together to find pictures of the jobs your child has picked. Print those out and use them as inspiration for pretend play activities. You can also have your child talk to a few family members or family friends as part of the research process. Encourage your career-focused kid to interview people from a variety of professions.
What does your child need for pretend play? Dress-up clothes, of course! Take a look at the pictures you’ve printed and try to find clothes that match. This may mean searching the house and possibly even using your clothes. For example, if your child wants to be a doctor, lend them your white blazer to wear as a lab coat and your light blue sweats to wear as scrubs.
Not only does your child need an outfit to wear, but they also need accessories and props. A doctor or nurse needs a stethoscope, a firefighter needs a helmet and an Olympic tennis player needs a racquet. Draw the props onto reused cardboard, paint them onto poster board or find another imaginative way to transform arts and crafts materials into play props.
Your child has their costume and props ready, and also plenty of ideas when it comes to what their chosen career looks like. You can dress up too, and help your child put on a pretend play. Take turns playing out different roles that relate to the career. Let’s say that your child wants to be an astronaut. They can play the pilot role as you act out the second-in-command part. Or, if your child wants to be a dentist, you can play the patient as they pretend to examine your teeth with imaginary tools.
Don’t forget to take a few photos as your child goes through the career exploration process. Snap pics as they read books, do research, dress up, create props and act out a pretend play. When the activity is over, put the pictures into a career book. Make one big book or a few smaller ones for each profession to look back on and keep the inspiration going!