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Posted by TP Toys on 13th January 2015
Ask most parents what they want for their children when they grow up and the answer will - hopefully - include ensuring they are happy, healthy adults.
What many people seem afraid to admit to is that they also want their little ones to be successful in some or all spheres of life. Of course success can be judged in many ways - it could, for instance, relate to a person's home life (relationship, kids) or their profession.
Children are often most influenced by the toys around them and the subjects that they learn about at school, which is probably why many little boys often talk of wanting to be a fireman or an astronaut.
The truth is that what your child wants to do when they are five years old may differ greatly from their aspirations - or lack thereof - as a teenager and here is where problems can arise.
Actually, there are few professions that are fully understood, which is why people can often end up drifting into a job that may not suit them or make the most of their potential.
Few would argue that they want their little one's childhood to be filled with fun, but also with some direction and guidance as well.
The brains behind a theme park that aims to provide young minds with information about different occupations is clearly hoping to combine the two.
KidZania is a theme park designed for children aged between four and 14 and it is expanding to the UK (there is already a branch in Istanbul).
According to the company, it "will be the UK's first educational entertainment experience, offering kids the opportunity to learn over 60 unique and exciting professions - turning dreams into reality".
KidZania London will be situated at the Westfield shopping centre in Shepherd's Bush and will consist of a mini-city with an airport, police station, A&E, theatre, sports stadium, shops, a bank and even a university.
Children will be given the opportunity to try out different professions in a fun environment. They will be paid in KidZos and a day at the theme park could see them playing at being a surgeon in the morning and a salesperson in the afternoon.
A trip to KidZania may be a fun day out, but there's also the possibility it could spark an interest in a profession that you or your little one previously knew little about.
The issue is how do you foster this interest when you get home, or what if you are unable to get to KidZania, are there ways you can encourage role-play at home? The simple answer to this question is yes. There are plenty of inexpensive ways to foster an interest in different professions.
Arguably the most obvious - and easiest - way to do this is by designating a toy box to dressing up items. You can add hats, jewellery, sunglasses and wigs to the box, as well as dresses and costumes.
If your kids are bored with the items in the box, you might also want to create a small box with specific items for them to try out.
Another good idea is a role-play game whereby children get to designate members of the family to various roles; you may end up as the child and they the parent.
If it's raining outside and you're stuck for inspiration, then why not try out a game where they pretend to be, say a doctor or a teacher? You could create a costume for them or find toys around the house that help them to develop their role. For instance, a Pillow Pet may be used as a prop for a vet, or a dolly might be used as a pretend patient for a doctor.
You could even encourage them to put on a play wearing the costumes they have designed. This is fun, but is also a great way to boost their confidence - an attribute that's vital for success in later life.
There's an opportunity to make everyday occasions a role-play situation too. For instance, you could help children to pretend they are waiters in a restaurant at dinner time.
TV shows and books often talk about professions and these can act as a catalyst to discuss different occupations.
You could also encourage your little one to discuss what they like and dislike, by sharing your interests with your child. All you have to do is to take it in turns to talk about the activities you enjoy - for instance reading, gardening.
Remember, with a little help, children can really let their imagination run wild and begin to explore more of the world around them.