Career Journals for Kids

When I googled, "kids journal template" I was inundated with a plethora of choices. There were ones I recalled from my daughter's recent kindergarten life with a half page for a picture or drawing and well spaced lines for writing in big letters to travel journals for visiting Disneyland. Keeping a journal is promoted as an excellent (necessary?) way for parents and teachers to encourage our children to practice their writing skills and express their feelings. But what about a journal to help them with their careers?

Journalling is not just for kids of course, it is easy to come across articles proclaiming that if George Lucas and Beethoven both kept journals (or diaries) then you are a loser if you do not also write every day in your own little, leather bound moleskine (apparently any size is OK but I prefer the Cahier, Pocket ones). Keeping a journal as an adult continues to help with writing skills and expressing feelings just like when you were a kid and used a crayon to record your brilliance. Additional claims include: greater creativity, improved mental health, reduced stress, and extended memory (since you write it down you won't forget).

Back to our kids. Can we help them get into college and find a rewarding job/career by forcing them to keep a journal? In the course I teach at Temple University, the students are required to come up with stories and themes from their lives as one of the first exercises in my career studies class. They are supposed to recall the times when they accomplished something or felt proud of an activity or project.  Elaborating on these life events they discover clues to what might be a satisfying career. For example, a student talking about how she loved being on the winning basketball team in high school and more specifically, enjoyed destroying the rival high school from across town may then recognize that she is hyper competitive and a career as a trial lawyer is worth looking into. For many of my students, this is the first time they have done anything like this exercise. The same approach with younger kids and over a longer period of time should help us and them to recognize earlier where both their strengths and their interests lie.

With this in mind I created the official HeadhunterDad journal page! Feel free to download and use it with your own kids or just make your own. It starts off with a bulleted list of the day's activities. I did not think it necessary to write too much in this step, just getting down a few different things is enough. The next few questions are more important, Which activity was the most fun? Which activity did you do best at? Which activity are you most proud of? Each question also requires some explanation as to why your child chose to highlight it.
As parents, our job (apart from forcing them to do it) is to help our kids understand how to analyze their answers. We can help them by asking deeper questions about the situation and since this is a career related article, look for and point out how the things our kids enjoyed, did well at, and were proud of could relate to careers they might also enjoy. For example...

Mom: So, why did you have the most fun at lunch today?
Billy: Kevin put a piece of corn in his nose and when he blew it out it shot clear across the cafeteria and hit Mr. Bonnevergut in the back of the head!  It was so cool!
Mom: On no! That sounds crazy!  What did you like about that?
Billy: (thinking) Hmm, I guess it was kind of neat to see how far a piece of corn could go.
Mom: That is pretty amazing, it might be interesting to run an experiment to see what might shoot that corn farther.
Billy: Yeah! Like maybe a catapult or a slingshot.
Mom: Sure, just don't do it at school! But this is what scientists do, they run experiments to find things out.
Billy: That sounds like a fun job, maybe I can be a scientist when I grow up?
Mom: Absolutely.  Now tell me why you were most proud of knocking Sally of the seesaw...
[Disclaimer] I have not started this with my kids yet. I plan to implement it this summer with both the 7 year old and the 14 year old and see how it goes. Stay tuned for future reports on their progress.