By Donna Gray, Calgary Herald
Advisory Board Member

When Sean Tremble was five years old, he was crazy about cars—taking his toys apart, putting them back together, and making them go faster and further. His father Brent, was certain his son would pursue a career in mechanics.

“He was obsessive about all kinds of cars,” he recalls, “He would know the makes and models, and that would totally blow me away.”

Tremble says he promoted Sean’s interest when he could, even driving through car lots to look at new and vintage vehicles, and tinkering on his own car with his young son.

“Then, a few years later, he just stopped talking about cars,” Brent recalls. “He switched to video games. Now he’s on his way to university to study environmental sciences. You just never know.”

Over the past 30 years, Cora van Eden, owner and director of A Child First Preschool, has seen many children display vocational traits that can be displayed regularly during playtime. She says, sometimes, the evidence is so strong, that she automatically knows what profession a child will gravitate to.

“One of my former students is now a doctor,” she says. “When he was little, he was always in the house corner of the school, pretending to be a physician. He would even tell me which bandages were for heavy bleeding.”

She says the mandate of preschool is to start children on the road to discovery about themselves as well as the wide world around them.

“Sometimes parents worry that their children aren’t getting enough exposure to other activities,” she says. “The child may be obsessed with a particular activity or toy and cry when it’s taken away. The key is to keep showing them lots of scenarios.”

When a child shows a particular skill, does that mean they’re pre-destined for a certain profession? Perhaps, but it’s not a guarantee, says Cathy Carston, instructor for the Early Learning and Child program at Mount Royal College.

“Typically, they’re displaying portions of their skills being developed at different periods of time,” she says. “Some will develop physical before verbal, or vice versa. By age 7-8, it all comes together.”

For those children who are passionate about a certain activity or profession, she suggests encouraging activities that promote greater knowledge as well as individual skill. The danger, however, is that parents may be inclined to pigeon-hole their kids, steering them toward a profession they may not prefer or excel at later in life.

“If your child builds with Lego, that doesn’t mean they’re going to be architects or engineers,” she says. “It’s actually helping their sense of concentration and fine motor skills in preparation for future learning.”

She points out that 20 years from now, job descriptions and educational requirements will change, so go with the flow and give a child options.

“Talk to them about their interests and about what a doctor, or an engineer would do,” she says. “The more experience you can provide a child, they are better equipped and have more experiences to choose and dream from.”

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