Parents everywhere have legitimate reasons to feel concerned these days. Many worry about the impact the COVID-19 pandemic will have on their child’s education — and their future goals.
However, you ultimately have more influence over your little one’s life trajectory than the time they spent in formal schooling. You can do much to enhance their learning and ensure they have the tools to meet the world. Here are six tips on how to set your child up for success.
1. Supply Them With Learning Resources
School is only part of your child’s educational equation. Your little one can learn many valuable life skills from you, often more effectively than they do in class. For example, few K-12 schools provide basic financial literacy courses — only five states require this at the high school level. Yet science reveals that people form their money attitudes much younger, often by six or seven.
You can enrich your child’s education by picking up where their school leaves off and adding enrichment activities. For example, you can take your children on a virtual field trip to the Museum of Natural History or the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. You can also find resources like NASA’s Space Place, an interactive website where kids can learn about the solar system and the universe we share.
2. Start Saving Early
One reason income inequality keeps climbing in America relates to college prices. The cost of higher education skyrocketed 169% since 1980. Conversely, salaries for recent graduates have gone up by a dismal 19%. The result? Countless young people begin their adult lives crippled by student debt.
However, you need a college degree for many professions. The best thing you can do as a parent is to start saving for your child’s education early, utilizing as many creative financing vehicles as possible.
One tool you have is a 529 savings account. These plans have low minimum contribution limits — sometimes as little as $15, making them an affordable investment for nearly any budget. Withdrawals are tax-free as long as you use them for qualified educational expenses. Furthermore, this asset is protected during bankruptcy, reassuring if your financial situation later changes.
If you don’t own a home, saving to buy could benefit you and your child. It spares you from getting priced out of a place to live if your landlord raises the rent, but that’s far from the only perk. You build equity with each mortgage payment.
When it comes time for your little one to go to school, you may find that taking out a home equity loan offers far better interest rates than student loans, saving your child thousands.
3. Attend Meet-the-Teacher
Getting involved in your child’s education can make a significant difference. Research indicates that your interaction leads to higher grades and test scores, improved attendance and better adaptation and social skills.
Therefore, you should make every effort to attend events such as back-to-school and meet-the-teacher night. These evenings provide valuable opportunities to discuss your child’s unique needs with their educator and gain insight into their instructional and classroom management style.
Many schools allow parents to visit during the day — although you should generally check with your district first. Teachers can nearly always use extra volunteers for special events like science fairs and field trips. Please sign up to help if you are able. It shows your child you care, and your enthusiasm for their educational achievement will rub off on them.
4. Sign Them Up for Activities
Physical activity can boost your mood and productivity as an adult. Guess what? It has even more powerful effects on children, who need movement to develop their bodies. Doing so with others also builds social skills.
You shouldn’t force your child to play a sport — but you can encourage them to do so by taking them to the park and teaching them the requisite skills. Playing catch is a great way to develop eye-hand coordination, for example. Children who don’t thrive on competition might find their ideal workout groove in a martial arts or yoga class.
5. Encourage Multiculturalism
The world isn’t becoming smaller — but communication advances now mean interacting with people all over the globe in daily life. Encouraging multiculturalism and cultural awareness can help your children thrive in an increasingly diverse society.
Most schools don’t teach foreign languages until high school, despite evidence showing kids younger than 10 are more likely to reach native speaker proficiency. Why wait? If you aren’t a multilingual household, you and your little one can embark on an educational journey on one of the many language learning apps together.
6. Work on Yourself
Finally, the way you behave teaches your children more about how they should act than anything you say. If you’re a walking ball of maladaptive behavioral patterns, your kids will follow your example.
Therefore, you should spend time working on your mental health if you want your children to grow up to be well-adjusted. Doing so normalizes going to therapy and working toward personal growth — an example you want to set. It also educates you about unhealthy and ineffective discipline measures you might have learned from your parents, breaking the generational trauma cycle.
Set Your Child Up for Success
As a parent, you ultimately have the greatest influence over your little one’s development. Set your child up for success with the six above tips.