Ok, I’m going to brag just a little bit. My youngest daughter graduated from ASU last week. Art History. One of my sons received his master’s degree last week in Engineering. Another daughter received her master’s degree last week in cello performance. I have 7 children—all 7 are ASU graduates, 4 also have their master’s degrees and one is working on his doctorate in history. All 7 paid for their own education either by receiving grants, scholarships, working part time and/or having student loans. Yes, I am very proud of them and their accomplishments and hard work.
How do you make sure your children get a good education? Well, there are the standard answers--provide a place for them to do their homework, turn off the TV, be interested in their school work, make homework a priority, etc. Those are all great and valid answers. But there are also some things you can do that are just as important and valid--like teaching them to set goals.
My granddaughter has a goal to sleep dry through the night. Her younger brother doesn’t wet the bed anymore, so she doesn’t want to either. Her mother made her a chart, breaking the goal down into steps. She gets a sticker for going to the bathroom before bed, a sticker for not drinking water before bed and a sticker when her mom takes her to the bathroom before mom goes to bed. She’s been dry for 4 nights! Hurray! Will this step by step goal approach help her when she has a 10 page paper to write someday. Yes!
One of my sons had school phobia. Everyday in first grade he would throw a fit before going to school. When I walked him to school he would throw his lunch pail in the neighbors' yards. Some days he would runaway and I would look high and low for him (finding him in the bedroom closet). What did I do? Talked with him and tried to listen. Talked to the teacher and principal. Cried with him. Prayed with him. Used positive reinforcement with him. Eventually he overcame his problem (he’s the one working on his doctorate degree—oh, if I had only known it would all work out well). What did my son learn? Stick with it—ex. yes calculus is hard. Talk to the teacher, pray, work and eventually you’ll pass the class.
Teach your children to respect their teachers-even if they’re wrong. One year my daughter made the cheerleading team. Suddenly two of her teachers (a private music teacher and a school teacher) made life difficult for her by their belittling attitude toward her and their cutting comments. The other day I mentioned how mean one of these teachers had been to her. My daughter was shocked. “Why didn’t you let me know you felt that way years ago?” she asked. I replied that I wanted her to learn that sometimes injustices take place, but you still need to respect your elders and learn to take “it”. I don’t know if I was right or wrong, but children need to learn that life is sometimes unjust, and you have to be the better person and deal with it with grace and learn from the experience.