One always marvels at the speed at which time passes by, especially if you’re a parent. One moment, you’re taking a photo of a gap-toothed six year old embarking on their first day of grade school, and the next you’re helping them prep for their post-secondary entrance exams and sending them off to college.
When your child gets to the age of post-secondary life, regardless if they are attending a local college, university, or prepping to live on campus, there are some key factors to examine to prepare your child for college.
Teach Your Child Basic Life Skills
According a post at Square One, the first and perhaps most important thing involves coaching them around the basics of life skills long before the school year rolls around. This includes teaching them the basics of finances – balancing their bank accounts, budgeting for food and spending money, basic cooking skills, and even how to properly do their laundry.
If you can encourage your child to become familiar with these skills ahead of time, they’ll be prepared for it all once they head off to college.
Let Them Make Mistakes
Another key factor to remember is that even though your child is still a “kid” in your eyes, he or she is likely to make some mistakes at school – whether it be forgetting to hand in a paper, sleeping in and missing a class, or perhaps having a bit too much fun at a school social event.
With all this in mind, it is crucial for you as the parent to allow your child to learn from these mistakes and accept the consequences that come with them. After all, we learn best when we learn the hard way, and you won’t be helping your son or daughter at all if you swoop in and rescue them when the going gets tough.
Offer Support As Needed
That being said, it is still vitally important to support him or her when they need you – and chances are they will miss you, especially if they’re staying on campus away from home.
Even if your child appears to be living it up, enjoying the life and freedom that comes with college living, just by calling them regularly, sending them emails, and even providing them with neat little care packages lets them know that you’re thinking about them.
Give them lots of support and praise for the excellent job that they’re doing at school, and share stories with them about your days at college to draw connections with them.
Organizing the Dorm
As for some of the general housekeeping items for college preparation, help your child get ready by providing them with everything they will need to house their dorm. Spend some extra money on a high-quality computer that has a good solid battery life and isn’t super heavy to be lugging around between classes.
Don’t forget a desk and a lamp so they have a safe and quiet place to do their studying. A nice mattress and some fun, funky bedding and a comfy chair will make their dorm feel cozy and more like home.
And don’t forget some great organizational items, such as closet organizers, storage solutions and more, to keep them tidy.
Connecting with Professors and Peers – and Staying Safe
Finally, encourage your child to engage immediately with their professors and other peers, so to help them orientate with their new life and with a potentially strange campus.
Also, it’s vitally important to talk openly and candidly with your child about some of the dangers of college life; this includes overzealous parties, drinking, drugs, risky sexual behaviour and any other things that can come with the newfound freedom of university.
And most importantly, if you are able, drive your child to their first day and help them set up. Take them for lunch at the college campus food restaurant. Tell them you love them. And send them off to the big world!