I get asked the "silver bullet" question a lot: how can we help the young people in our life be consistently successful students? I know that I've written a few books about how we can help make that a reality, but the reality is that there isn't a "one size fits all" pathway to success. If there were, we'd all be on it and be able to share it on our own. The truth is that every student is different and their successes will all look different according to what they want to do- we're not all meant to be lawyers, electricians or professional baseball players. So I wanted to lay out three clear strategies you can use to help create some structures for you and your child to make their dreams come true:
Think about goals. You have them, so your child should have them. As they age, begin to get a sense of the things that interest them and what they might want to do in the future. If your daughter is super-interested in cars, build activities around cars, get them to think about chemical processes behind combustion and propulsion or aerodynamic design. If your son enjoys nothing more than making Lego structures, try and get them to think about building things higher and more stable, thinking about some basics of architecture. Your student's teacher also has goals and lesson plans drawn up months in advance. Find out what their goals are for your child's classroom and help support those plans at home. I always tell parents- school days aren't meant to be a sequence of surprise parties: schools are armed with research, lessons learned and solid experience to help turn out future leaders. You can and should know what your kids will be learning about- try and support those lessons at home.
Model the behavior. If you're not demonstrating to your child that achieving results and focusing on improvement isn't something everyone should do, then they may never learn. Most of our lives take place outside of offices and schools, so it's up to all of us to make the different areas of our lives support each other. If you are not an active reader yourself, chances are that your child won't see the importance of reading for themselves. Seeing is believing.
Focus on the long-run. Every day is a new opportunity and it's all about what we do with all of these opportunities. There are so many important sayings out there to inspire us: crisis is an opportunity, stumbling blocks look exactly the same as stepping stones but how we use them are different. We have to teach young people to understand their strengths and goals and also realize that our experiences build on each other. I remember as a child thinking that everything would come to a close at college graduation. Little did I know that in many ways, that would just be the beginning of so many other journeys. We can build a stronger and better society if we teach young people to think bigger and focus on the future.
These of course aren't the only ways to help create more successful tomorrows: what lessons that you learned as a youngster have stuck with you? What do you wish your parents or teachers had focused on all those years ago? Share them here so we can all learn from each other!