How to support your child’s career education

Parents play a critical role in the career education journey of their children. By providing support and guidance, parents can help their children make informed career choices, develop skills, and achieve their goals. 


1. Encourage Exploration

One of the first ways parents can support their children is by encouraging them to explore different career paths and interests. Children should be exposed to a range of career options from an early age, so they can develop a sense of what they might be interested in pursuing. This can be done in several ways, such as reading books about different careers, watching documentaries or movies about different professions, or attending career fairs.

Research has shown that early exposure to different careers can positively impact career decision-making. For example, a study by Lent et al. (2007) found that students who had greater exposure to diverse careers had higher levels of career decision-making self-efficacy, which refers to an individual’s belief in their ability to develop clear career goals. 


2. Set Goals

In addition to encouraging exploration, parents should also help their children set realistic goals for their careers and education. This includes helping them identify the steps they need to take to achieve those goals, such as choosing the right courses or extracurricular activities.

Goal-setting is a critical component of career development. According to Bandura’s (1997) social cognitive theory, goal-setting helps individuals to focus their efforts, build self-confidence, and increase motivation. Goal-setting can lead to higher levels of task performance, especially when goals are specific, challenging, and accompanied by feedback.

Therefore, parents should encourage their children to set specific, achievable goals for their careers and education. This could include setting goals for grades, standardised test scores, or extracurricular activities. Additionally, parents should help their children track their progress towards these goals and provide feedback to help them stay on track.


3. Provide Guidance

As children navigate their career education journey, parents should provide guidance and support. This can include reviewing career journey outcomes, helping them with job applications and interviews, and providing networking opportunities.

Research has shown that parental support is a key predictor of career success. According to a study by Mourshed et al. (2012), students who receive support from their parents are more likely to succeed in school and careers, as they have access to resources, emotional support, and practical advice. 


4. Foster Independence

While parents should be actively involved in their children’s career education journey, they should also encourage independence. This includes helping their children learn how to make decisions, problem-solve, and take responsibility for their actions.

Autonomy is a critical component of career development. According to Deci and Ryan’s (1985) self-determination theory, individuals who have a sense of autonomy are more likely to have intrinsic motivation, which refers to a desire to engage in an activity for its own sake. 


5. Provide Resources

Access to resources is critical to career development. According to Super’s (1990) career development theory, individuals need four types of resources to develop their careers: information, counselling, support, and opportunity. By providing your child with access to these resources, you can help them make informed decisions, build their skills, and navigate challenges in their chosen career path.

At high school, students have access to a careers advisor to assist in making subject, post-school courses and career decisions. Finding ways to link advice provided in the school setting, with advice provided at home is essential in ensuring that your child feels supported and empowered in their career journey. 

There are several tools and resources available on the market to bridge this gap between home and school. A prominent tool is My Careers, an online platform that allows children to explore future careers and further study pathways in a personalised setting. The platform encourages users to learn about themselves and apply these findings to their career journey. Once outcomes have been developed, parents can discuss options with their child in an informed setting.


6. Celebrate successes

Celebrate your child’s successes and encourage them to keep pushing forward. Whether it’s getting accepted into a college or landing a job, acknowledge their hard work and accomplishments.


Remember, every child is unique, and their career education journey will be different. As a parent, your job is to provide support, guidance, and encouragement along the way.