Encouraging children to 'think bigger'

May 2012
Pro-active encouragement of young people to 'think bigger' at all times.

Encouraging children to aim high and make the most of their capabilities can only serve to increase their sense of self-confidence and improve their attitude towards learning.

There are numerous benefits to supporting children in reaching for future goals, as well as pushing the boundaries of their expectations of themselves and their academic achievements.

Intriguingly, a recent University of Manchester study on the relationship between social class and aspirations in primary-aged children revealed that class was no barrier to aiming high:

'The research finds no relation between children's social class and their ability to express an aspiration, little relation between class and the content of children's aspirations.' In addition it found that 'children have coherent occupational aspirations as young as 8.'A MORI poll entitled 'Creating a High Aspiration Culture for Young People in the UK' made the following recommendations:

  • Pro-active encouragement of young people to 'think bigger' at all times.

  • More 'awareness-raising' with them about why they need to do this: the effect on their future life chances, where they'll live, what car they'll drive etc. ("the real world consequences of education")

  • Discrete careers education/guidance from a younger age.

Below are just a few advantages of fostering aspiration in children.

Increased commitment to learning
Children who have long term ambitions to be anything from a mechanic to an actress should be more focused on the tools they need to fulfill this career aspiration. In addition, having a central aspiration may mean that children are more aware of both their strengths and weaknesses, and are able to ask for support when it is needed.

Confidence to meet goals
Children who believe that they can achieve whatever they want may be more likely to work towards meeting their goals without being discouraged by their lack of knowledge in a subject. They will also have the self-esteem to reach for targets that may test their capabilities and have the confidence to move outside of their comfort zone.

Aspiration helps children give their all. Having a focus for the future (whether short or long-term) will mean that children give their best to each challenge.