Vocational intelligence is a preference or a particular interest toward a certain type of vocation that usually comes by way of a hobby or interest in the child’s play. Bottom line – it is never too early to make kids aware of their vocational intelligence.

This does not mean we should program kids into specific vocations. The world is filled with adults who work in careers, chosen by their parents, and who end hating the decision for the rest of their lives!  However, great learning and intelligence can be experienced when you allow kids to focus on activities they love to do. Again, expose, but do not indoctrinate professions. For example, one of the most valuable experiences for many children occurs when parents give talks in the child’s classroom about their chosen profession. In addition, “the bring you child to work” days has become a great experience for most children involved. Moreover, when the child is exposed to various careers you are not only attaching a face to a career, but in my opinion, it stimulates abstract thinking or areas of the brain where great learning and intelligence can occur.  Perceptive parents need to take the lead at home as well. For example, the child who never seems to get enough of nature could be expressing their vocational intelligence as a naturalist. Parents should consider enrolling such children in nature camps. Again, such exposure gives a face to the experience an obvious leg up on a future career as well as getting their brains to think abstractly?

A recent study asked practicing physicians why they became doctors. A staggering 80% said they had experienced a personal death or tragedy in their childhood that motivated them toward a medical profession. The recent publication of Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Outliers, traces the lives of highly successful individuals (Mozart, Gates, etc) and theorizes that most of these successful individuals invested a staggering 10,000 hours in their chosen profession before they reached the pinnacle of success. I would not expect individuals to be so driven or lucky enough to start so young in their lives to invest 10,000 hours, but again, parents can take the lead and notice certain interests and strengths with their children to reinforce the child’s vocational intelligence. It happens all the time with great athletes, writers, doctors, so why not your child? A simple trip to the library, concert, museum, university and so forth are ways to stimulate greater learning and vocational intelligence with children.

For example, career counselors have used the Holland’s Self Directed Search extensively with middle and high school students as a way to define future vocational interests. Some of my greatest successes with at-risk youth were due to vocational assessments. For the first time in my students problematic life’s someone was actually connecting their potential skills or interests to future careers and saying, “you can be someone!”

Regardless of the child’s age or circumstance, the wise parent could begin to observe their child and provide opportunities for children to connect their vocational intelligence dots. From my perspective, it is never to young to begin to feed into a child’s vocational intelligence. If it can happen with Bill Gates, it just might happen with your child as well. For your comments contact Dr. David Sortino at  Santa Rosa Press Democrat

– Dr. David Sortino or davidsortino@comcast.net.