Are you saving for your child’s education? I don’t have kids yet, but several of my friends and associates have welcomed little bundles of life and joy into this world recently, and these births have kicked my brainstorming into motion. All of the experts advise us to save, save, and save some more. We’re supposed to save for retirement, save for a rainy day, save for unexpected expenditures, save for a home, and save for next week’s trip to the grocery store. Saving is must. I agree with the experts that saving is one of life’s necessities but in the meantime, there’s got to be something that parents can do now to prepare their children for higher education. Otherwise, those are going to be savings going down the drain.
No, everyone is not destined for a trip to the university or the local state college. Of course we’re all aware of that fact, but adopting a trade and practicing it professionally now requires a great deal more than it used to. So, although our children may not all find themselves being told to “go to college and get a good job,” school is going to have to be in the cards–culinary, cosmetology, or otherwise.
We Americans tend to be hell bent on having options. The idea that being different and unique will grant us success, as opposed to committing to one task, one skill, or overcoming one challenge after the next compels us to be complacent. Unlike our Asian counterparts, we do not hold formal education in high regard. We seem to believe that opportunity will fall on our doorsteps. We send kids to daycare, elementary school, and secondary school religiously, but we often fail to reinforce that education at home. So, saving for a child’s education starts out as a grand idea, until you discover that you’re going to be paying to educate a student who is either unmotivated or still unprepared to embark on their own path. So it might be a good idea to partake in our children’s educations once they get home from school.
We can’t entertain the train of thought that “a kid really just isn’t good at school and formal education would be a waste of time.” There really is no excuse for being the parent of a child who cannot read even if you too cannot read. That can be rectified. The time of our reliance on excuses has come and gone. We need to look at “saving for college” from a different perspective.
In this day and age, there really is no alternative to sending your child to a post-secondary school, if only for a couple of years. There are no excuses for parents of children who aren’t doing well in school. It used to be that kids were needed at home to plow fields or to work in factories to help support their families, but now, the law makes it mandatory for kids to be receiving an education. Most of us know or went to school with a little Asian kid that could play Mozart at the age or seven. If he could, so could the rest of us if we had the same kinds of parents.
Amy Chua, writing for the Wall Street Journal, shares that the “vast majority of the Chinese mothers said [responding to questions about their parenting philosophies] that they believe their children can be ‘the best’ students, that ‘academic achievement reflects successful parenting,’ and that if children did not excel at school then there was ‘a problem’ and parents ‘were not doing their job.” Can we argue against that?
Chua says that while American parents are busy trying to make learning fun and less stressful for students, our Asian counterparts are operating under the belief that “nothing is fun until you’re good at it.” We have a tendency to give praise to our children and one another before they’ve really accomplished anything. Self-confidence is extremely vital to our success and the success of any child, but we’ve got to encourage, mandate even, that they do a whole lot more than just exist. I may be an extremist this week, but I’m siding with Amy Chua. She makes excellent points.
While we put our dollars aside to grow interest for our children’s college tuition, let us also take cues from Amy Chua and examine the other ways in which we can pay for their educations. Time is probably the most important thing of value that we can give our youth to help them prepare for their independent lives. This means time spent studying ways to better raise our children. It includes the time that we invest in doing their homework with them and reading to them before they can even understand what is being read. It includes the effort we will expend to instill discipline in them and the work it will take to battle their selfish desires to be autonomous and in control. These are just some things to consider. Like LeVar Burton used to say, “You don’t have to take my word for it.”
It’s summer time, what will your child be doing with it?