Although it can be difficult to imagine, someday your child will have a career of his or her own. He or she will likely start a family, buy a home and start having their own children.
So, while being a kid is still extremely important, it’s also important for you, as the parent, to start thinking about your child’s future. For many of us, that means investing in a college fund — but that’s hardly the end of it.
What many of us don’t do is truly prepare our child for the working world. It’s not until middle school or high school that we really start discussing the idea of going to college. Maybe we need to start a little earlier than that?
I’m not suggesting you should choose a career for your child. But you should be able to identify certain skills and characteristics that would make them a suitable candidate in various types of industries, such as a future developer or UX designer. You can nurture that skill set early on, and prepare him or her for a potential career in one of those fields.
Invest in Future Developers and UX Designers
To make this simpler, I’ll merge these two career paths into one.
Computer scientists drive the technological infrastructure of our world. They develop and create new hardware, software, applications and even methods for using technology. Many opportunities like software engineers, mobile application developers, game developers and even UX designers fit into this broad field.
Why does this matter? Well, since they’re all elements of computer science, that’s what you should focus on. Preparing your child for a career in computer science
— even at a young age — is what you want to do.
Did you know that computer science is one of the fastest-growing career fields in the United States currently? Occupations in the field are estimated to grow by 22 percent
from 2012 to 2022. This is because we rely on technology so much today.
Preparing in Elementary
There’s a reason why advocates recommend introducing alternative languages to children at an early age. It’s because they are easily influenced. Think of them as a sponge, soaking up knowledge and skills for later in life.
Many talk about learning Spanish, French or Chinese early on, but there should be more advocates for teaching computer programming and coding.
Learning to code, interestingly enough, is similar to learning another language.
But how do you know if your child would make a good “coder,” so to speak? Watch for things like good collaboration, heightened creativity and advanced problem solving.
Code School conducted a survey of more than 2,200 professional programmers
, which asked them to reveal common traits about their younger personalities. One big takeaway was that female programmers were more into music than computers. It shows that programmers, developers and designers are extremely creative.
To hone these skills, you can use the four C’s of 21st century learning
: collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity. It involves teaching children through action and interaction-based activities. These are collaborative activities like tossing a ball, playing video games that require teamwork or even washing a car together. Activities that require a lot of communication and collaboration work best.
How will this help their future as a developer or UX designer? Most developers and designers are part of a large team of like-minded individuals working collaboratively.
A single game developer, for example, can be just one person on a team of dozens. They spend time working on a small piece of a project, and when they’re finished, it’s added to the final product. It’s the same for mobile applications, software development, website maintenance and more.
Preparing in Middle School
When kids are in middle school, it’s time to get some hands-on experience. They will likely develop a deeper interest in computers and technology, but it’s hands-on time that’s really going to get them ready. This could be doing activities like building their own website, making a game or designing things using software like Auto CAD.
The computer sciences, including software development, are about building practical things. Even at its core, coding is about the same thing. This can be easy to forget when you’re staring at a bunch of jumbled code — especially if you’re not familiar with programming — but it’s all to build something
That’s exactly why middle school is the time to get kids building. If you see them using creativity and critical thinking to design things of their own, then they’re on the right track!
Remember that Code School study we talked about? Over 83% of men said that, while growing up, computers were their preferred hobby, while sports (61%) and music (59%) came last. Women preferred music over computers at 63% to 52%, respectively.
It may not seem like it, but these are all collaborative and building-type activities. And when you take into account computer classes, sports and music classes, they’re all elective-type courses, where you would spend time working collaboratively with your peers.
High School and College
This is the time where dreaming about a future career is starting to become a reality. This means moving on to the more practical side of development, which includes mathematics and laboratory science.
This is also the time to branch out and specialize in terms of interests. Will your child be more interested in Information Security? How about working with software or mobile app development? Or what about dealing with web server equipment as a hardware engineer?
Finding a college with extensive knowledge in computer science and successful alumni in their field can help to narrow down schools. I highly recommend taking tours of schools and talking to the current students about their computer program to see if it would be the right fit for your child.
The best way to find out if this is the right industry for your child to pursue is to help him or her explore the field. Find resources on the various opportunities in computer science and begin learning about the different career paths. It’s time to sit down and find out where your child’s interests lie.