Dr. Karen Wolffe Listen to Dr. Karen Wolffe’s advice on the three things parents most need to know about career education.


I’m Dr. Karen Wolffe. I’m with the American Foundation for the Blind. I am the Director of Professional Development and CareerConnect.

What are three things you want to ensure that parents know about career education?

The things that I think are most important for parents to know about career education are, first of all, the importance of having children do chores around the house to instill in them the appreciation for their connectedness to the family, their responsibility to the family, for them to feel like they’re making a contribution to the family. So, the first thing I always think about is chores and the fact that we’re teaching both responsibility and that connectedness to the family through the introduction of chores.

The second thing I think that parents can do to help children learn about careers and preparing for the world beyond school is to help them explore the world of work. And it really starts at home with an understanding about what your mother does, what your father does, what your relatives in the extended family do, the kinds of work that they doā€”and not just the name of the work, but what’s involved in that work. What do you really do during the day? What kinds of tools do you use? What kind of uniform or costume do you wear? What software programs do you work with? All of what’s related to a job. What you like about it, what you don’t like about it. And then, to build beyond that, into the neighborhood. What are the neighbors doing? What kind of work do they do? What activities are they engaged in that tell you as an adult about the kind of work that they do and whether they like it or don’t like it? And then, from the neighborhood, into the community. And what are the jobs that your child is going to need to learn about to really understand what’s going on in the community? And first, it’s the community jobs that you encounter in your daily lives. The doctor, the nurse, the receptionist, the dentist, the people that you meet at the grocery storeā€”what are they doing? What other kinds of jobs are theyā€”to make that a part of the running commentary that you’ll always be sharing with your child who’s visually impaired about what’s going on. But to complement that with what’s going on in terms of work and the careers that people have.

And then, finally, in this area, I think about the importance that parents can contribute in terms of making connections to role modelsā€”to adultsā€”adults who are blind or visually impaired who are successfully working, successfully living, engaged in the kinds of activities that we want to see their children engaged in ultimately. It’s important for the childrenā€”it’s also important for the parentsā€”to see those successfully employed blind, visually impaired adults. To see how they’re living their lives. How they’re managing. The tools that they’re using, the techniques that they’re using, and to learn from them what you can be doing in the home to support the child’s evolution into a successfully employed adult.