From the first year of secondary school, young people are encouraged to think about their abilities, character traits and values. Their interests are increasingly emerging, but choosing an occupation is far from a priority for them, which is normal. It is however relevant for them to start asking questions and reflect on certain aspects of their personality.

Some courses allow this kind of reflection and promote this self-awareness. In some schools, younger students get to meet a guidance counsellor, while in others these meetings are more common in Secondary 3, 4 and 5.

At this age, they often begin to:

  • wonder about who they are, their qualities and their weaknesses.
  • identify habits and attitudes in their schoolwork that are specific to their way of functioning.
  • identify environmental influences (family, friends, educators, television, internet, etc.) on their attitudes and behaviours.

Your child can begin to explore the academic world to better understand the system he is part of.

Here are some pointers to help you encourage his exploration:

  • Help your child understand how his school functions, what services are offered, the roles of the people who work there, the rules, etc.
  • Have him identify the different levels of study (secondary, college and university) among staff at his school, in his family and in his entourage.
  • If applicable, locate all the secondary schools, vocational training centres, colleges and universities in your neighborhood and city.
  • Acknowledge, with him, the increasing importance of education to succeed in several occupations throughout his career.

Thousands of unknown occupations

The world of work is mysterious for your child who knows little about it, except what he sees and hears around him in his daily life! He is already interested, however, since he is aware of the place that work occupies in your life and that of those close to him. So why not talk about it occasionally?

Use the familiar

  • Talk about the occupations of members of his family, school and others close to him.
  • Identify various jobs in the community and leave it up to him to recognize some of them.
  • Recognize that there are many different occupations and name several.

Your child may be interested in fields that you dislike. Do not denigrate these professions, but rather encourage him to express the reasons that motivate his interest!

Use their immediate surroundings

  • Describe the products and services offered by local employers.
  • Identify the different occupations present in their surroundings (hairdresser, welder, police officer, pharmacist, etc.).
  • Show respect and appreciation towards all workers in different fields.
  • Discuss what he thinks about work and why it is important to everyone.
  • Talk about the differences between the jobs his grandparents held and yours, due to the evolution of technology in the workplace.

Inspired by: the writings of Marcelle Gingras, guidance counsellor and retired professor, Université de Sherbrooke.