Helping Young Children Decide What To Be When They Grow Up Starts Early

John Almarode, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Early, Elementary, and Reading Education, College of Education, James Madison University

At first glance, the connection between the experiences in an early childhood center or classroom and the eventual career or occupational choice of an adult seems like a bit of a stretch. It is hard to imagine that what happens during circle time, a read aloud, or playtime likely has a strong influence on what children decide to be when they grow up. Yet research indicates that early experiences play a major role in the cognitive, emotional, and behavioral trajectory of a child (Campbell, Pungello, Miller-Johnson, Burchinal, & Ramey, 2001; Campbell et al., 2012). This includes the decision about what they want to be and will be when they grow up (Watson & McMahon, 2005). This article presents an overview of the research on the development of career aspirations, why it is imperative that time and effort is devoted to the development of career aspirations in early childhood classrooms, and finally, strategies and ideas for your center or classroom.

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