Although I am a career educator, as I think about my 5-year-old starting Kindergarten next year, I’m amazed at the uncertainty surrounding his future.
When noted educational psychologist Rob Evans visited Randolph in 2012, he observed that if Huntsville, Alabama were a Stone Age fishing village, the job of being a parent would be much simpler because we would be much more certain about how to prepare our children for their future.
“Being a parent in 21st century America and raising resilient children is perhaps more challenging than it’s ever been, anywhere.”
When you consider parents raising children in third world or developing countries, this may sound like an exaggeration. But Evans hastened to add that the challenges he is referring to are not about relative hardships, but the hazards of anxiety about the complexity of choices we face, and our uncertainty at a time of rapid growth and change in the world.
The rate of change is accelerating and we have less certainty about how we need to parent our children.
I have no idea what the college landscape will look like in 13 years. I have no idea what the job market will be looking for in 17 years. I’m not sure if he will have one career or three. It seems hard to know where to begin.
With all the uncertainty swirling around how best to prepare our children today, we do know a few things.
Having a solid foundation in your child's education helps broaden opportunities in life.
For one thing, we know that if our children are going to have opportunities in life, they need to have a solid foundation in their education. Children need to face challenges at school, both academically and socially. It can be incredibly hard to see your child deal with challenge, but it must be harder to watch them struggle in adulthood because they didn’t learn how to deal with challenge early on.
In our work, we often hear from parents who are concerned that school won’t challenge their children. So what does challenge look like? Is it being able to read more difficult books or do long division? Is it speed or fluency or the ability to think deeply? Or is it artistic skill? Or empathy? Or being able to catch and throw? It is all of these things.
The right amount of challenge meets children where they are and takes them further than they or we would expect. The right amount of challenge encourages them to learn and keep learning. School should be challenging, but challenging can also be fun.
As technology changes our world and the opportunities it presents, schools are – or should be – making shifts in how they present content and determine how time is best spent in the classroom. Curriculum is so much more than a content-delivery system. It is a series of experiences and the learning of attitudes and approaches to learning that enable a student to grasp connections and make meaning, to develop an understanding of self and the world we inhabit.
Growing up with multiple adults who care increases your child's ability to develop into a happy healthy adult.
Second, we know that if our children are going to be happy and healthy adults, they need to grow up with several adults around them who know them and who care about them. That may sound ridiculous, but I’m not so sure that the typical student in America is really known anymore. How many children are allowed to disappear at school? How many children are allowed to never raise their hand in class? I believe children should know and be known by at least five adults at school. Growing up with multiple adults who care increases your child's ability to develop into a happy healthy adult. I already know who many of those adults who will interact with myDon’t settle for a "typical" educational environment for your child.
Exposing your child to many creative and intelligent minds helps prepare them for life's path.
Finally, we know the strengths and weaknesses of our children and, although we may not want to admit it, we know the strengths and weaknesses of our own parenting. As much as I wish I could, we can’t prepare the path for our children, we have to prepare our children for the path. I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to do that alone. I want my child to be exposed to as many creative and intelligent minds as possible when he is young. Of course, we should expect this from the adults in his life, but I want his friends to have an appetite for learning as much as I want his coaches, teachers, and advisors to demonstrate their own love of learning.
Rob Evans is known for the phrase: “Prepare the child for the path. Don’t prepare the path for the child.” Let’s work together to prepare our children for the path ahead! Hear what Rob Evans has to say about this topic in the video below.
Learn more about how to prepare your child for life's path through a challenging education. Check out our latest eBook to see what challenge looks like for your entering K-4th grader.