Preparing Your Child for College

preparing your child for college
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.

Saying Goodbye

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!

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Homeschooling in the City

math study
With so many varying degrees of creativity, intelligence and skill sets found in our children today, and with the emergence of a fear culture of guns, violence and bullying in traditional schools, it’s no wonder that the trend of home-schooling is flourishing in the USA.

For that child who just doesn’t fit well into those core standards of academia, or the prodigy that devotes most of his or her day to developing their musical skills, homeschooling is not just an alternative – rather, it is a choice that is giving children an edge in core educational subjects like calculus and chemistry.

In fact, a post at studypug clearly shows that home-schooling is no longer devoted to religious families and hippies – the popularity of home schooling has risen significantly in the past decade. Since 2003, close to 700,009 additional students were homeschooled – an increase of 60%.

Why Homeschool?

Parents of homeschoolers state that the strict standardisation of the US education system doesn’t align with the values and needs of their families and children. This “one-size-fits-all” style of curriculum just doesn’t work for those children who may be “special” in some way – perhaps intensely shy, highly intelligent, immature or in need of a flexible schedule to accommodate their special aspirations in sport or arts. Further, many schools are now overcrowded with teachers that are overworked or over resourced with behaviour issues in class or lack of funding. Let’s not forget the playground politics, the bullying problems and the constant pressure to have children look, act and behave in a certain way.

Thanks to amazing homeschooling programs across the US that give full support and resources to the parents that undertake the program, as well as the non-profit group HLDSA, parents can offer their homeschooler the best education possible. These programs and non-profit groups allow parents resources, support groups, course information and more to make the undertaking a huge success.

It’s quite easy to make the jump to homeschooling as well – for example, in New York State, you need only to file paperwork with the Department of Education, outlining your intentions, your goals for the curriculum, and stating that you will fulfill certain requirements that correspond to public schools. Other than that, you are free to adopt a curriculum that aligns with your core family and community values, and the possibilities are endless.

What better a way to teach children about sea life than by taking a mid-day field trip to the beach to collect mussels and oysters? Or to spend a quiet, relaxing day browsing the aquarium? In fact, certain private cultural and industrial institutions, such as theatre companies, science and engineering entities, and even recreational programs, are now all offering programs and classes for speciality subjects to homeschoolers. Children can participate in an in-depth theatre program or take part in a hands-on engineering project directly in the lab where the magic happens.

Taking it even further is the concept of “unschooling”, a more extreme approach to the homeschooling realm where parents discard any connection to traditional learning entirely, and rather follow learning through life – for example, math is taught through cooking or calculating a tip at a restaurant.

Even more, homeschooling is proving to be extremely useful for teenagers, who are known to need more sleep than adults and small children – by allowing your teen to sleep in later and be ready to learn when their brains are wide awake, is showing great results for their education.

Does Homeschooling Work?

Anything that is non-traditional can be met with skepticism and doubt. However, most research shows that not only does homeschooling work, but can be more beneficial to our children. In fact, according to a report from the National Home Education Research Institute, homeschoolers score anywhere from 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on traditional academic achievement tests. In Further, homeschoolers taking the SATs averaged 72 points, or 7 percent, higher than the national average.

One must be mindful of the commitment – time and monetary – that is required to make the homeschooling a success. Homeschooling usually requires one parent to be at home full-time, which can sometimes be a financial burden on the family. There is also a tremendous amount of patience, dedication and passion required to provide the energy needed to fulfill the educational requirements of the child. If you commit to it fully and utilize the resources available out there, homeschooling should be a huge success.

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