Starting Early: Empowering Your Elementary Students to Become Future Ready
- What You'll Learn
- Read the Recap
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- Learn about the benefits of starting the career exploration process early
- Get tips on ways to incorporate SEL skills and career awareness for students in K-5
- Discover the value of a full K-12 Solution and how to get buy-in
In this webinar we talk with two educators experienced in career development for K-5 students, and hear from them on how kids are benefiting, plus the importance of these initiatives as part of a full K-12 strategy.
Here are the educators who make up the panel.
Ever considered getting your elementary students future ready? Has your district struggled with introducing engaging content within your schools and curriculum that also incorporates social emotional learning skills? Is your district thinking about implementing a full K-12 EdTech solution?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then you’ll benefit from this webinar where we cover the benefits of introducing your K-5 students to concepts around career exploration to help them become future ready.
Why Start Early?
Research indicates that career development in childhood is important. It’s an opportune time for students to build self-awareness, knowledge of career options, and future goals.
Child psychologists point out that the roots of career development begin early in a child’s life. A growing body of research indicates that the earlier educators can start exposing children to concepts around career development, the better. That’s because as early as kindergarten, children begin to form opinions about careers and express occupational dreams.
A recent Gallup Student Poll showed that 8 in 10 elementary students are actively engaged in school. By middle school, only 6 in 10 students are engaged. Furthermore, in high school, a mere 4 out of 10 students are actively engaged.
But there’s something we can do about this: Start earlier. If we help our elementary students construct a plan and set goals for their future from the elementary school years on, we stand a better chance of keeping them engaged through the middle and high school years.
After all, engaged students from K–12 are 4.5 times more likely to be confident about their futures compared to those who are not.
What are the Benefits of Starting Early?
There are numerous benefits of exposing kids to concepts around career exploration early, including:
- Preventing gender biases from forming by showcasing careers to young students with equal gender representation, allowing them to discover what they’re interested in organically, and in a way that’s outside of gender constructs.
- Expanding student’s career horizons beyond what they see at home or on TV by planting the seed of possibility through the discovery of pathways they never even imagined.
- Equipping students with the social & emotional skills (SEL) needed to thrive in future school years, including how to relate to peers, solve problems, collaborate & communicate.
Increased Legislation on Giving Elementary Students a Head-Start
Districts are beginning to recognize and realize this. Guidelines and policies surrounding career awareness and development are expanding to earlier grades.
The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) recognizes the importance of an early start. Their college and career readiness standards outline the mindsets and behaviors students need to build for success as early as kindergarten.
Similarly, both the Michigan State Board of Education and the Pennsylvania Department of Education have designed career development models and standards to begin in the elementary years.
So we can see the benefits, but how do we translate this into reality? What are the components of a well-rounded careers curriculum for students that will ensure they not only get exposure to their future options, but also build the SEL skills for smoother transitions to middle school and long-term success?
Advice From Our Panelists
Read on to learn how our panelists incorporated SEL skills and career awareness at the elementary school level, and the benefits they’ve seen first-hand.
“The first way we can look at the word story is in the literal sense of a story book. Our primary teachers work really hard to develop oral storytelling skills for students before they put pencil to paper. Teachers talk about what a story consists of and how students should include those in what they tell. We’ve all heard a 5 year old go on and on and on when talking. Teachers help students develop that skill so that they share for a purpose. We also bring a lot of intentionality to what we read and how we read it.” she said.
Reading with intentionality is all about pausing at various moments in the story and having kids analyze the characters: How are they feeling? How do you know that? What clues do you see that made you think that?
The same can be done with video clips; Kate’s elementary school teachers pause at various moments in the video clips and ask students to analyze the feelings and emotions of the various characters.
They emphasize that no emotions are bad, but it’s more about what we do about it. Social thinking, reading, and discussing all help students self-regulate and manage emotions, and eventually help them become more self-aware of their personalities and identities.
How do kids in K-5 learn about interacting with their peers? How do they explore careers through these interactions and how do they become more “self-aware” and confident through collaboration & through helping others or learning from others?
How do kids learn from one another when they interact and what soft skills do they gain from these interactions?
Dana started off by talking about the peer to peer career fair held in her district.
Every school year, Dana’s district partners with the Career and Technical Education department to conduct a peer-to-peer career fair for their fourth and fifth graders. This project lets students research a career and present it to their peers and younger students.
“We begin the exploration process by having students discuss their favourite school subjects, and their passions outside of the classroom,” said Dana.
Students can read about careers that they may have never heard of before and understand the importance of what they are learning in school.
After students have a career in mind, they present their findings to first, second and third grade students — a great way to solidify what they’ve learned. This not only makes them more self-aware, but also exposes them to the world of work. Presenting their findings to second and third grade students helps kick-off further conversations, leading to stronger connections within the school community.
Dana highlighted how her district embeds job shadowing every year, pairing 5th graders with members within their community to help them learn about other careers & also do mock interviews, helping them gain key communication skills and gain exposure to career awareness at an early age.
Kate talked about how her school held a Career Night. Their Media Specialist developed a project-based unit where students would be creating something (think business idea, informational powerpoint, display, or solving a problem).
All ideas stemmed from students’ career results in Xello. Students used that personalized information to create, and it was truly amazing.
“We had kids coding, creating interactive teleprompter screens, writing their own stories, and printing 3D models,” said Kate.
“So this was the requirement for grades 3-6, but we also knew that we wanted to showcase student work. Laura, our Media Specialist, created an application for students interested in presenting to compete, so students practiced filling that out and then public speaking,” she explained.
She also explained quickly how the night went.
“Families entered the building and each received a career night passport. The goal was to travel to each section of the building to look at the various presentations and booths and receive a stamp at each. Think of our building like a wheel, sort of like a central hub with spokes going off of it. In each of these “spokes” was a different career pathway. We had high school volunteers stamping kids’ passports throughout the night, we had a family photo booth….it was so fun,” she said.
Once kids visited all career pathways and accumulated their stamps, they went to the cafeteria for their snack and prize.
“My AP loves a good motto, and she got to sneak two into that night. The first was at the snack station where kids could build their own trail mix, with the idea that kids were “blazing the trail” to the future,” said Kate.
The second was the prize: each student went home with a Crayola moldable clay with the idea that they were “molding their future.”
In short, it was an awesome night that got the kids excited, and it all stemmed from the personal results from the career matching tool, Xello.
After talking about some of the exciting activities in her school that help kids become future ready, Kate highlighted the benefits of using a full K-12 EdTech solution.
Here are some of the reasons her district chose Xello, and why you should as well:
- For your entire district, Xello offers a consistent experience from students starting at kindergarten & going all the way to grade 12.
- Parents prefer that kids learn to become future ready via one platform. This is especially helpful when students transfer to another school within the same district.
- Xello helps every student, regardless of background, ability, or pathway, understand their future academic and career possibilities.
- It's not only college-focused, but it's also career focused. Xello helps students discover relevant college, university, trade, and career options based on their personality, skills, and knowledge.
To learn more about the benefits of a full K-12 solution, read our blog on the benefits of starting early with one future readiness solution.
Dana highlighted the importance of getting buy-in from all stakeholders before implementing a full K-12 solution to get everyone on board.
“Make sure everyone working with students are on the same page. That means building relationships with different sectors and explaining the benefits to their area. We may all want a good program, but for different reasons," she said.
You can learn more about how Dana's district implemented Xello & her advice for a successful implementation.
We ended the webinar by answering some question from the audience.
I will leave you with this quote by Niles & Harris Bowlsbey from Career Development Interventions:
"Ignoring the process of career development occurring in childhood is similar to a gardener disregarding the quality of the soil in which a garden will be planted."
Our Education Consultants and Success Managers are knowledgeable about mandates in every state. They can show you how to implement Xello to meet your district requirements.