Think back to a time in your life when you were a starry-eyed youngster with all the hopes and dreams for your future. You had goals and aspirations and believed that anything was possible. Hopefully, you were able to get onto a pathway that led you to achieve success. However, for the majority of us, we somehow ended up in a real-life version of Groundhog Day! Due to the monotonous nature of life, sometimes we lose touch with what really matters and to me, that’s the kids.
How can we ensure that today’s generation of young people, not only hold onto those hopes and dreams but gain an education that gives them the skills needed to succeed in life? Does that mean being able to ace an exam and then forget everything that was in it? Or does it mean they have the leadership skills that can inspire their team to achieve their goals? Would you be more proud of your child if they became a lawyer because it’s what you wanted for them or if they became a train driver because that is what they had always wanted to be since watching their first episode of Thomas the Tank Engine?
Challenges in Australian Education
What do we do as parents, educators and mentors to help the youth of today become the best versions of themselves?
Who is to blame?
Too often in life, we play the blame game and it’s hard not too. I know that I have to be conscious of it myself, when I’m stressed, even the smallest things can put me off and I want to blame someone else. Yet, blaming others for anything, doesn’t allow us to move forward. This can be the case with education. Society puts the responsibility of education onto educators and education providers. Then, when teachers are not able to achieve at the expectations set for them, they blame the school, education system or the Government.
It’s time to stop blaming others and to ask ourselves what more can I do?
What we can do to give every child every chance
- Read to them every night. If you read at least one book to your child every day before they start school, they would have been exposed to over a thousand books! This can increase their vocabulary, brain development, imagination and your relationship with them.
- Expose them to as many things as possible. Different foods, cultures, environments, people, and places. This is the stage when much of the fundamental brain development occurs.
- Demonstrate how to communicate effectively and respectfully in your own relationships. This way they are able to witness the positive effects of being nice!
- Set positive expectations, but also teach them that failing is okay.
- Help them develop their so-called “soft-skills” such as communication, listening, empathy and self-esteem. This can be done by firstly modeling it yourself and then explaining to them what to do and why they need to do it that way.
- Try not to compare them to others, appreciate them for who they are. Celebrate the success they have through highlighting the effort put in and the way they approached the challenge, rather than the end result. This can help them develop a growth mindset rather than a fixed one.
- Stop doing everything for them and give them an opportunity to fail. It is better for a 6-year-old to make mistakes and start developing their decision-making process than a 36-year-old make their first mistake which could totally crush them. Listen to famed investor Howard Marks talk about this process here.
- Now, is not the time to ease off on your parenting! Now, is the time when your kids need you more than ever. Except, they don’t need you to tell them what to do anymore, but rather to guide them, mentor them and to shape them into being the best versions of themselves. Mental health issues are impacting 1 in 7 young Australians. Continue to work on your relationship, create a supportive environment, show them respect and be fair.
- Talk about money the importance of saving, investing, how to get more of it and spending wisely.
- We know that they are going through a stage of developing their self-identity and trying to figure out where they fit in this world. However, they still need to understand the consequences of their actions.
- Technology is made to be addictive and many of our kids are addicted to it. Like any addiction, they will need support and guidance in order to understand how to best use it, rather than be controlled by it.
- They do not have to have life all figured out by the end of school. We place too much pressure on them to excel academically.
Finally, are YOU being the best version of yourself?