Teaching career exploration in the classroom is an important part of social-emotional learning and character education. Kids should start thinking about what they want to be when they grow up by considering their interests and strengths, and how they can apply that to a career.
I often cover career exploration in my lessons, I use this Career Exploration Bundle resource that includes everything you need for teaching career exploration in your classroom, featuring over 90 different career options! I also love using this Career Town activity set, you can tour the town to learn about 50 different careers in 32 different locations. These make the perfect career day lesson or college and career readiness activity.
What is career exploration?
Career exploration is researching, evaluating, and learning about the variety of current work opportunities both locally and internationally.
It is helping children consider pros and cons of choosing various jobs– work schedule, income potential, family life, level of education needed, ability to travel, etc.
Beyond that, it is learning about the steps needed to pursue these options.
Career exploration isn’t just a classroom topic for middle school or high school students; it can be taught at any grade level, even with the youngest of preschoolers!
Why is career exploration important?
Teaching career exploration is an extremely important concept to teach students. This process helps students expand their knowledge and consider the career option (or options!) that excites them most. It also aids in the learning of essential life skills such as planning, evaluating pros of cons of choices, and setting long term goals.
It is important to expose students to the vast number of career options available to them post-high school. Students are likely to only be aware of career options similar to those of their family and close friends.
How do you teach career exploration?
There are SO many ways to teach career exploration!
Because you can teach career exploration to all students, it is important to differentiate this topic based on students’ ages.
For young students in preschool and kindergarten, plan a dress up day! Encourage students to come to school dressed for their favorite job. At this age, you’ll likely see some superhero costumes, a few ninjas, athletes, and lots of dancers and emergency workers.
For older students, consider interactive demonstrations or research projects about careers that most interest them. Individual or group presentations to help students practice important life skills like working with a team, planning, and public speaking.
This Career Exploration bundle includes 4 different products while featuring over 90 different career options! Talk about variety!! It’s a great resource to use with a career unit or an add-on to Career Day. Use this as a print option or digitally to best meet your classroom needs.
With this Career Town activity set, your students can tour the town to learn about 50 different careers in 32 different locations. This resource makes the perfect career day lesson or college and career readiness activity. Students complete the career information booklets and then practice their knowledge with the task cards.
A digital learning version for Google Slides Digital Learning is also included. Do you prefer teaching with BOOM CARDS™? You can find the Career Town activity in this format here!
Students love stories! Books are a great way to incorporate teaching career exploration in the classroom in a fun, relatable way. Here are a few highlights of my favorites:
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It’s Career Day in Mrs. Madoff’s class. The class learns about different job professions that people have. They have a visitor who is a construction worker, an author, a veterinarian, and more. This book is a great intro for kids to start thinking about what they want to be when they grow up.
It’s Show-and-Tell time in Mrs. Krupp’s class, and Billy just can’t wait for his turn! Today the class is discussing what they want to be when they grow up, and our exuberant eight-year-old hero is bursting to tell everyone about his future career plans.
Who wears what to work? The clues in each lively verse can be spotted hanging from the clotheslines. A mail carrier’s uniform, the artist’s brushes, and the chef’s apron all hang from the clothesline. Then turn the page to learn which professionals wear and use the special gear in the jobs they do
Myrtle and Erytle are twins who don't look alike or act the same, but they do share one common love...SHOES! Their father uses their love of shoes to encourage the young twins to start thinking about future careers early.
Involve Your Community
Invite community members representing various careers to speak to your class or grade level. This can be done face-to-face or virtually! Help your students to understand the need for various jobs in the community and put real-life connections to different career options.
Are you looking for more about career exploration? Check out this interest survey I created to help students identify different career interests. It’s perfect for elementary-aged students but can be used with younger or older students too!