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Guest Column: Even preschoolers can learn about careers

Guest Column by Jenny Hanson

Jenny Hanson is the District 241 coordinator of early learning. She is a member of the Business Education Committee, a part of the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce.

What do you want to be when you grow up? This is a common question that we often ask our young children. Many parents do not realize this question is how we can start to introduce our children to the idea of work and careers. Remember when you wanted to be a professional football player, a dancer, singer or police officer? Those childhood days made it easy to associate your

Jenny Hanson

future work with joy, happiness and contentment and maybe even an act of heroism. As parents, we should help children seek out their passion as it relates to a career — not burst their bubble or squash their dreams. Everyday experiences at home or at school can help to foster a love of career exploration.

In District 241 pre-kindergarten preschool classrooms, students experience a variety of careers through curriculum studies as well as classroom themes. These activities allow children to develop scientific thinking and problem-solving skills using tools related to specific careers. Whether it is in the classroom dental office, recycling center, news station, shoe store or restaurant, preschoolers get to role-play these careers. They also develop an understanding of the world by recognizing and describing the roles of workers in the community and by identifying characteristics of the places where they live and play. These opportunities allow young learners to participate in common community careers that teach them the importance of helping others and contributing to society.

Preschoolers can begin to understand that people work at jobs to earn money and that money is what pays for things in their home, including their toys. This type of inquiry can lead to more advanced questions in the later years about adult jobs including:  How do you get a job, why did you choose your job or did you have to complete special schooling for your job.

So continue to let your young child daydream and wish about their future career. Spend time with them talking about some of their favorites and encourage them to participate in experiences that introduce them to a variety of careers through play. Let them see the limitless possibilities when it comes to career choices and their future.

Children explore working in a recycle center in a pre-kindergarten classroom. – Provided