Author(s) Lorraine Godden, Nicki Moore, Heather Nesbitt and Stefan Merchant
Publisher CERIC
ISBN 978-1-988066-85-1

Dr. Lorraine Godden’s interview on The Shift with Patty Handysides:
How early is too early to teach kids about careers?

Insights from the authors

More from the researchers 

Visit the project page on CERIC’s website to download additional reports produced by the authors in the development of the teaching toolkit:  

  • Supporting Career Development in Children: A Literature Review 
  • Supporting Career Development in Children: Curriculum and Policy Review 
  • Supporting Career Development in Children: A Review of Business and Industry Partnerships 


Career development is a lifelong process that begins in the early years. In elementary school, engaging in career conversations is not about getting children to make decisions about what job they will have in the future. Rather, it is a time when we ask our young learners to begin the process of investigating themselves, finding out more about their interests and aptitudes, and considering what type of life they feel they might want to lead. 

Young children are already developing skills and engaging in experiences that build their capacity for successful learning and positive, harmonious career and life outcomes. However, many elementary school teachers may not be fully aware of how their day-to-day teaching activities connect to their important role in developing these critical career-related skills and attributes with their students. Exploring Possibilities! Journeying Through Career-Related Learning in Grades 4–6: A Teaching Toolkit helps to shine a light on the value and many ways of undertaking career-related learning in elementary schools.  

Underpinned by research and data collected from educators, parents, students and industry partners, Exploring Possibilities! will help educators understand the ways that their teaching practices develop foundational career-related skills, such as healthy habits of mind and being, social and emotional skills, self-confidence and self-efficacy. The hope is that this teaching toolkit will inspire educators to go on a journey to explore the possibilities in career-related learning for children in Grades 4-6. 

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We would love to hear what you think of the book, especially how you are using it to inform your work with young children. Please share your insights on how the book has impacted your practice with the research team via email to

About the Authors

Dr. Lorraine Godden is a qualified teacher and educational researcher. She is the FUSION Skills Development National lead at Carleton University and a part-time Faculty Lead at Yorkville University. She is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (UK) and serves on the Board of Directors of the Asia Pacific Career Development Association.   

Nicki Moore is a Senior Lecturer in Career Development at the International Centre for Guidance Studies, University of Derby (UK). She is a Fellow of the UK’s Career Development Institute, a Fellow of the National Institute for Careers Education and Counselling and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. 

Dr. Heather Nesbitt is an educator, researcher and mother. She is an Ontario-qualified primary/junior teacher with over 15 years of experience at both primary and post-secondary levels. She is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education, Queen’s University and a Sessional Faculty Member in the School of Education, Trent University. 

Dr. Stefan Merchant is an Assistant Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Education at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada. A former teacher, school administrator and father, he researches the development and assessment of foundational skills such as collaboration, self-regulation and work habits. 


Paola Sallusti - Elementary Teacher, British Columbia, Canada

As an elementary school teacher, I know the importance of developing foundational skills in children. This is a hugely important part of my practice. This toolkit gives specific, practical teaching (and assessment!) strategies for developing skills such as collaboration, responsibility, and self-regulation. While there is a “career” focus to the toolkit, the truth is that these skills are useful in school, at home, and everywhere in life.

Dr. Rie Thomsen, Professor of Career Guidance, Aarhus University, Denmark

Career-learning activities are important for all students; they are engaging and often foster motivation to do other activities in school. However, the students who gain the most from the activities are children from low-skilled and low-economic backgrounds which makes this toolkit an important contribution. This Exploring Possibilities! Journeying Through Career-Related Learning in Grades 4-6: A Teaching Toolkit inspires practitioners as well as policymakers and researchers to share that career is ‘A lifelong journey of learning about oneself and the individual interactions you have with learning, work, and life experiences.’ And that a career is about the life you want to lead – not just a job, occupation or profession. It involves deciding among possible and preferred futures. It answers: ‘Who do I want to be in the world?’ ‘What kind of lifestyle am I seeking?’ and ‘How can I make an impact?” The toolkit helps readers to see that their understanding of career brings norms and expectations regarding work and life into the classroom. This toolkit supports teachers, educators and parents to be reflective about this and investigate their own norms and assumptions.

Adriano Magnifico, Career & Entrepreneurship Consultant, Louis Riel School Division, Manitoba, Canada

This career development in children toolkit, Exploring Possibilities! Journeying Through Career-Related Learning in Grades 4-6, is a comprehensive career development resource for elementary teachers. The toolkit offers detailed research to build a powerful rationale for using a career development lens in elementary school work and activities and reshapes the word career into a thoughtful and imaginative journey full of learning and experiences that ignites students’ life journeys. 

Tricia Berry, Learning Specialist, Educational Support Services, Education and Early Childhood Development, Government of New Brunswick, Canada

The Exploring Possibilities! Journeying Through Career-Related Learning in Grades 4–6: A Teaching Toolkit is an important project in education but more specifically, in the area of elementary career education. The resulting teaching toolkit is a resource that can not only inform the practice of educators but to support a shift in mindset leading to the significant and intentional delivery of career development for elementary learners. The use of the toolkit will without a doubt have a lasting impact on the lives of our learners. It is with great hope that we will see its use across the relevant grades in allowing for more universally accessed career-connected learning. 

Dr. Vicky Prévost, Professeure adjointe, Sciences éducation - École de counseling et d'orientation, Université Laval, Quebec, Canada

This toolkit offers an interesting perspective on career-related learning throughout Canada. Its innovative and creative activities can serve as inspiration for educators who wish to initiate and develop career-related skills within their community. The use of this toolkit can benefit students, helping them develop various facets of their lives, including healthy habits, social and emotional skills, self-confidence, and more, as they prepare to embrace their future.

Sareena Hopkins, Executive Director, Canadian Career Development Foundation, Ottawa, Canada

As research is increasingly pointing to the critical role of career development at earlier ages, this toolkit is such a timely resource. It offers a powerful blend of conceptual clarity, linkages to research, tailored strategies and practical tools/activities for classroom or community application. Any educator or career influencer working with children will want this toolkit as their go-to guide. 

Professor Tom Harrison, Director of the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues, Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor for Education Innovation, University of Birmingham, UK

This teaching toolkit offers valuable insights into the integration of career-related learning within elementary education. While its primary focus is on preparing young students for future opportunities, it subtly emphasizes the importance of cultivating foundational skills such as healthy habits, social and emotional competence, self-confidence, empathy and collaboration. These skills not only support career development but also contribute to character development and lifelong flourishing. By recognizing that elementary education plays a vital role in helping children discover their passions and aspirations, this toolkit aligns with our commitment to holistic individual development. It provides educators with a valuable resource to foster both career readiness and the long-term well-being of young minds. 

Michele Murphy, Elementary Teacher and Certified Career Development Practitioner, Toronto, Ontario

As both a Grade 4 teacher and a career coach, I have been searching for quality careerrelated learning materials for my students. The Exploring Possibilities! Journeying Through Career-Related Learning in Grades 4–6: A Teaching Toolkit was the resource I was looking for. It seamlessly blends current research with practical, classroom-ready activities. This manual for career education will prove invaluable to both experienced career educators and those new to the topic. The teaching toolkit makes it easy to bring careerrelated learning to our elementary students in meaningful, age-appropriate ways. 

Dr. Anthony Mann, Senior Policy Analyst (Career Readiness), Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development

This is a timely and important new book. The Exploring Possibilities! Journeying Through Career-Related Learning in Grades 4–6: A Teaching Toolkit represents an important step forward in addressing a severely neglected subject. It responds to a growing recognition that truly effective career development will begin well before secondary education. Elementary (primary) schools have important roles to play in helping children to understand the links between their education and future possible selves and to question deep-seated assumptions about the careers that are reasonable for them to pursue. In these ways, early career development nurtures the spirit of curiosity and exploration that optimizes successful engagement through education and transitions into fulfilling employment.