My elementary-aged daughters had their last day of school on Friday. During breakfast that day, I introduced them to Alice Cooper’s old but relevant song – ‘Schools Out (For Summer)’.  They LOVED it – especially the line that says ‘No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers' dirty looks’. They are totally pumped for summer vacation and belted out this song with glee!

I too am excited for summer, but I also feel immense pressure to prepare academic activities that will help my daughters avoid the Summer Slide.  I am sure many of you feel similar pressure and so I decided to help you by providing 5 career activity ideas that you can do with kids this summer. While these activities are career focused, you can also mix in important academic practice such as literacy or reading or science!

  1. Write A Self-Reflection – have your child reflect on the school year in order to inventory their likes and dislikes. What subjects were most fun? What projects did they enjoy the most? What was their favorite field trip? In what area do they need to work harder next year? Such a list gives insight into the child’s interest and values and can be used as their checklist when evaluating potential career options. This is also a great way to integrate writing and spelling practice into their summer. For example, one of my daughters is really working hard on remembering to capitalize the first letter of sentences or proper nouns. So, I will have her focus on checking for capitalization while writing her self-reflection.
  2. Find A Career Role Model – encourage your child to look for career role models in their life. Perhaps your child can interview someone in a field they are interested in. For example, one of my daughter’s friends is interested in photography and emailed questions (aka practiced literacy skills) to one of his favorite photographers. That photographer emailed back with all sorts of insight into what it is like to have a career as a photographer! Or urge your child to visit an aunt, uncle, or family friend at work for a couple of hours. This will provide your child with ideas about career options outside of your own work area which broadens their perspective about what is possible and increases the chances that they can ultimately find a career that best matches their interests and values.
  3. See Jobs First-Hand – take your child on a tour that exposes them to careers. For example, if you have an engineer buff, there are many automotive factory tours that you can do in the United States. Or if you have a budding actor, you can find a theatre that offers ‘behind the scenes tours’. In my area, the Denver Center For Performing Arts offers guided tours that give insight into all the work that goes into putting on a performance. Such experiences not only show kids career options but also let’s them see the work environment – which can be an important factor in job satisfaction. With older kids, you can turn this into an assignment that boosts their research skills by having them find tour options via Internet searches.
  4. Acquire Skills – urge your child to acquire a new skill this summer that aligns with their career interests. Attending summer camps is a great way to do this. Our local university offers an amazing array of camps covering topics such as robotics or climate change or medical science. If camps are not an option, your child can complete online courses. Do they like to program? Check out Khan Academy’s programming classes and video overviews – like this one on Python. Are they a data geek interested in math careers? Have them complete Microsoft’s free excel training exercises. Or maybe they have an interest in architecture? Encourage them to download SketchUp (there is a free version for K-12 students) to start building their 2D and 3D design skills! You can use insights from activity 1 to guide your search for a camp or online course that is right for your child.

And lastly, a bonus tip (and shameless plug for the Couragion app)! Consider purchasing the Couragion app for your child and encourage them to complete one Career Quest each week of the summer. Our app provides an easy, virtual way to do all of the above activities. With it, your child can explore careers, see role models, experience jobs first-hand, and receive STEM skill building tips.

I hope you have an amazing summer and if you have other ideas about supporting kids’ career discovery, please message us (info at couragion.com). 

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