The book Dark Horse (HarperCollins) by Harvard educator Todd Rose is a must read for parents with kids following a unique pathway into the world of work.
The “dark horse” refers to a learner/student who doesn’t follow the “cookie cutter” route into the job market. Instead of OR in addition to the SAT, college or technical programs, this learner finds stepping stones that conform to their interests, passions and values.
In short, these learners (maybe your kids?) gain an early sense of themselves. Turning off the hand-held media, through talking to friends and family these learners gain a sense of who they are and who they want to become.
A short section of the book (and an author podcast) can be found on the HarperCollins website.
School professionals, of course, can assist in the dialogue that families and mentors have with young learners. The Transition Planning Inventory from Pro-Ed publications has a “preferences and interests” form that can be used when talking to your student.
Basic “life” questions are a start to clarifying vocational decisions. For example, as a parent you might want to ask your son or daughter what they admire about their friends. You might want to ask your young scholar on his or her perceived strengths at home, school or in extracurricular settings.
In the Transition Planning Inventory questionnaires (which can usually be obtained from your school counselor or psychologist) pre-career questions are listed in the domains of work, school and in general “life” activities such as leisure activity.
Family discussion and interaction, according to the author Rose, are perhaps more important than formal question strategies. Home and neighborhood interactions clarify career-related values. They also serve to form and to strengthen them.
This sort of family/community dialogue can not be learned from a one-day class. However, home communication and the discourse setting or the sharing atmosphere of your family is key to the development and identification of job values and understanding.
Moreover, you may already know a great deal about your young scholar even before high school. Does he or she like to work outdoors or indoors? Which family projects does he or she seem to prefer?
Finally, the more your student talks and reflects about his or her own very strong passions, the better he or she will visualize and stick to a critical path (ie, job and career focus). Examples of stepping stones in a career pathway might include interests and experiences in cooking, gardening or a passion for literacy ranging from using a map application to using numbers in testing soil PH in your garden (these are only examples).
A career stepping stone, also, might simply be a trip to another city where he or she saw workers at a job site or in a fancy office. Student need time and space to discuss these experiences. Then, the more complete and reinforced will become self-knowledge about the eventual work path. And, with this understanding, the closer your scholar will be to guiding him or herself along a critical path leading toward meaningful industry and career.