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There have been some wonderful stories going around lately about just how hip and active today’s grandparents are.
Youthful, energetic and ready to try new things, they also frequently have more time to spend with their grandkids than working parents do.
Also, many grandparents today are very tech savvy. They know their way around Facebook, Skype, texting, tweets, emails, YouTube and all the other ways kids like to stay in touch.
So even if grandparents and their grandkids are scattered geographically, they can build strong bonds. Communications can be fun and very, very valuable. Especially if grandparents want to help their kids develop important life and career skills.
One story in the Wall Street Journal recently relayed how grandparents on an extended cruise in Europe sent their granddaughter two emails per day. One was a personal message and one was to share with her classmates in geography class. The classroom email contained either information about the latest port of call, a geography quiz, photographs, or something else instructional and interesting. The teacher put up a map and the class had a great time tracking the cruise and learning about new parts of the world. Isn’t that a great idea?
Grandparents can add a career awareness component to their communications as well. The more often kids are shown a connection between their school subjects and real world opportunities, the more motivation they will have to study hard and graduate with marketable skills.
Cruising grandparents could also share information about who helped them plan their cruise and the transportation, healthcare, hospitality, entertainment and other professionals they’ve met along the way. You get the idea.
Here are some other ways grandparents can become career mentors:
- Share photos you take of people working at jobs you think are interesting, exciting, important, or uncommon.
- Share news articles, profiles and interviews with interesting professionals and share why you found them of interest.
- Offer to visit your grandchild’s school during or outside of career week activities to offer help, advice and mentoring about your areas of expertise. Or to give hard-working kids a pat on the back and individual encouragement.
- Take your grandchild ‘behind the scenes’ at a business around town. See a fish market in the early morning, watch lifeguards set up their towers and emergency vehicles, visit a farm or ranch where local produce grows; visit the local zoo, aquarium or opera house for a backstage tour.
- If you live far apart and aren’t tech savvy, send postcards from your community. In addition to ‘wish you were here,’ add a note about the civic leaders, architects, city planners, educators, entertainers or business people in the area who make it such a fun, safe or interesting place to live.
- When your grandkids come to visit, sprinkle your conversations with fun and motivating observations about the work-a-day world. Help counteract negativity about the employment stats that are making headlines. You know things will change dramatically by the time your youngsters are ready to enter the employment world. And there are still millions of people out there working at jobs they love!
- If your grandchild has a particular love – soccer, ice cream, movies, dogs, etc – make a point of talking about all the professionals connected to that product, service or business. Make it fun and interesting. Do research together. Make it like a treasure hunt.
- Biographies and autobiographies are a wonderful way to introduce kids to people with interesting careers and/or career paths. If you have favorites, share them. If you volunteer now, tell them why you find it rewarding and how your career path led you to want to keep contributing.
- Find creative ways to link what is going on in your life with career choices: ‘ The nurse in my doctor’s office told me she specialized in Geriatric Nursing and just loves it’. Or “We sat with the captain of the cruise ship. He’s had a fascinating life.’ or “I have a new golf club that makes a big difference in my swing. I wonder who designed it?”
- Career-related gifts have long-term value and can be shared in the classroom. Pick one that promotes important dialogues. Listen carefully to your grandkid’s dream about their future. Use what you hear to motivate them in school so they understand what it will take to make their dreams come true.
Remember, nurturing and mentoring kids so they develop important career and life skills can be done by all of us. It is very rewardng to help them become careerwise!
This post was contributed by Susan Schneider, writer and co-founder of the kids-to-careers mentoring site www.GetCareerWise.com