‘Doctor! Lawyer! Architect!’ If you ask your young children what they want to be when they grow up, they are unlikely to say any of the above. Children’s minds know no bounds – they want to be an astronaut, a cricket player, a dancer, or even a film director! To creative little imaginations, the possibilities are endless.
As adults, we know that not every starry-eyed little child actually becomes an astronaut, and we expect our children’s answers to change as they mature. We all worry about how our children will support themselves in the future, and we want them to be happy and healthy, too. But what role should we actually be playing in shaping our children’s future careers? Many parents in India dream of professional occupations for their offspring, but young children simply dream of having jobs that they will love. They’re inspired by their immediate environment and don’t understand the restrictions that life will later impose. It’s only natural, therefore, that parents might have different career aspirations to those of their sons and daughters. But this is where we need to start thinking outside of the box.
A Holistic Approach to Basic Education and Career Development
Childhood development experts now highlight the importance of indulging young imaginations in helping children make sense of the world. Basic education in India is not just about learning from books - outings with schools, friends and family can be some of the best ways to get children thinking and talking about their future ambitions. Embarking on an adventure – an experience outside the everyday routine – is a chance for you and your child to explore different environments and learn about other people’s roles in life. A special trip to the seaside, for example, can not only be about first rides on a Ferris wheel, but also an opportunity to observe those who live and work by the sea going about their daily lives.
Could your son or daughter be a budding archaeologist, photographer, or Bollywood star? How do we encourage our children to put their potential to good use? We frequently remind them to work hard towards their goals and acknowledge that each child has his or her strengths. But do we even know what’s out there in the way of more creative profession pursuits? Perhaps it’s time do some research.
Leading by Example: Being a Good Role Model for Your Children
One of the very best answers to the question ‘what do you want to be when you grow up’ is ‘be like you, Amma’ or ‘be like you, Appa’! Positive role models are exactly what our young children need. You can help by taking your child with you to work so they learn about your responsibilities. Alternatively, try to arrange for them to shadow the activities of those who they admire.
First and foremost, lay the foundations for your child’s future success with a good basic education. Choose a school that shares your views on child development and pedagogy, but don’t be fooled into thinking that an academic route is the only way your child can get ahead in life. A vocational education in the trades or arts can be equally rewarding, so long as it is suited to your children’s character and strengths. And take the time to listen to your children’s aspirations. Right here, right now – do you know what they want to be? Why not sit down together and watch this inspirational video, and then have a conversation with your little one? Perhaps you’ll discover you have a budding artist or astronaut after all!