Isn’t That the School’s Job?
Pick up almost any parenting magazine these days it’s sure to be filled with articles about school readiness. “What skills does your tot need to have to succeed?” “Should you red-shirt your child to gain an academic advantage?”
Some parents are so worried about academic readiness that they pre-register their newborns at prestigious preschools feeling this is a critical step for their future.
Something changes, however, as children grow older and become ingrained in the formal education system. Somehow the expectation for parents to prepare a child for the future slips away. The onus shifts gradually away from the parents and on to the school to prepare a child for work.
Schools can enable students with certain academic skills. They can inspire passions, open new worlds of information, and be great sources of support and strength for students and families. Schools are not prepared to be a one-stop-shop for all that is required to navigate a career in the modern era, though.
With constantly evolving technology driving so many enterprises, the jobs our parents did yesterday and our neighbors do today may be gone for our children tomorrow. Not just outsourced, but no longer in existence.
The landscape demands that our children become life-long learners capable of building on existing skills and willing to learn entirely new skills on demand.
The idea that schools be solely responsible for preparing children for their future careers has never been less feasible. The need for us all to take an active role in the lives of society’s children is more important than ever.
Preparing for Work Requires Preparing for Life
While it’s appropriate to depend on the school to teach your child geometry or AP history, you certainly are the best-equipped person to teach about personal responsibility, the importance of communication, and even basic finances. These areas of knowledge bear enormous importance in a person’s ability to work productively and be successful.
Sometimes new skills required for a career are rooted in a specific body of knowledge, such as learning industry terminology or a particular software system. In other words, the mechanics of a field of work. Generally, a person can acquire those types of skills in an academic or on-the-job-training environment.
We don’t often think about all of the other skills associated with being a competent professional or how those skills acquired. An employee at any job is expected to know how to manage their time. They should know how to communicate effectively and conduct themselves in a manner in accordance with the industry culture.
These are the types of skills necessary to be successful at work that schools cannot be solely responsible for.
Work alone is not the singular end goal for any one person. It is likely, though, an ongoing concern for parents who see the rapid change of pace in the economy making economic prosperity a challenge for their children. As a result, they want to do everything they can early on to be sure their child can support themselves as an adult.
Is it necessary to enroll in a prestigious preschool from birth? No.
- Play with young children to develop simple number and letter recognition
- Read often to your babies and point out all the colors and feel all the textures so when they do enter school they have real-life experiences to build upon when asked to work with abstract forms
- Give them real-life experiences—again and again—so they can build upon as they grow older and are confronted with more responsibility
- Model the behavior you want to see them exhibit as adults
- Continue your leadership through the rest of their lives
School can only cover a certain breadth of work skills. Life skills are what you can teach better than any institution out there.
Everyone involved with the growth and development of children must believe in their own efforts to make a difference for the youth in their care. Raising Families strives every day to support you in doing so.
Rick Stephens is a co-founder of Raising Families. With 33 years of experience as a top-level executive at The Boeing Company and having raised four children of his own, he is able to support parents and grandparents by incorporating his knowledge of business, leadership, and complex systems into the family setting. In his “free time” Rick enjoys road biking, scuba diving, visiting his grandkids, and generally trying to figure out which time zone he’s in this week. Read full bio >>