Education has always been vital to one’s survival, even long before formal schools were established. Imagine how long prehistoric man would survive if he did not learn how to hunt or to protect himself against the elements. In American culture, we have witnessed the increasing demand for formal education as a means of survival. As a parent, it is your duty to provide your young students with the skills and resources necessary for them to succeed in school and in life.
Valuing education is a fundamental prerequisite. You cannot complain that your child is not taking school seriously if you do not demonstrate its importance. It is not enough to repeatedly say to your teen, “School is important” or “You have to do better at school.” What are your attitudes towards education? Do you manifest a desire in your life to learn and to undertake challenges that may be difficult? Consider your response when you are offered or required to participate in training related to your job. Parents must foster a value of education in themselves before they can expect their children to adopt it. Maybe the workshop or conference you attended was boring, but can you not find at least one thing that might help you in your occupation? Get excited about that one piece of information, new approach, or to just reflect on your occupation. If the training was ineffective, think about why it is not more interesting – what do you need to increase your interest and motivation? What can you do differently at work to promote positive change? Share positive attitudes with your family; get excited about work, learning, and growth.
Consider your attitude towards your job. School is your teen’s primary job; it should be his or her priority. Do you model the perspective that work is an activity to which you give your best? Or do you promote an attitude of “getting by”? Killing time and waiting impatiently for the work day to end are not effective messages for your children (and they are signals that your life is not fulfilling). If you tell your children that school is important so that they can attain a good job, but you do not like your job, a student has no motivation to achieve such a dubious reward. Perhaps your teen is smarter than you give him or her credit for, rebelling against meaningless labor.
When conversing with your teen, where do you place your emphasis? If you express greater interest in your teen’s sports than upon his or her academic work, your actions are contradicting your words that school is important. How much attention do you pay to what your student is actually learning rather than upon his or her grades? Ask about that book being read for English. Ask your teen to teach you to do that math problem. Discuss with your teen how the chemistry lesson applies to daily life. Your interest in your teen’s learning will convey the value of his or her education.
Seek learning opportunities in your life. This does not mean that you have to continually be enrolled in college courses, but that you pursue learning eagerly. Explore something on the internet: learn a new word or recipe, name that bird that you see every morning, get golf tips or gardening tips, research health issues. Take up a new hobby. Read an article or a book and discuss it. Wonder about where that road goes and then find out. Learning is about discovery; be curious about things and follow up on your curiosity.
Your enthusiasm for learning and your practiced expectation that your teen also engage in learning will instill a value that will benefit him or her through life. Attitudes are learned and you can teach your teen to be successful. You can cultivate an aspiration for learning within your home that will reap rewards, not just for your teen, but yourself as well. Valuing education is a prerequisite for your teen’s success.