Getting a quality education is often seen as an expensive endeavor and something only the middle class and higher can afford. Lower wage earning jobs usually are stuck believing that they have to settle for a sub-par education for their children.
As such, this post is part of my series on money issues affecting blue collar workers. However, access to quality education is an issue that affects us all. Even if you don’t have children, today’s youth will be running the world when we are in our dotage. So it is in everyone’s best interest to ensure that everyone gets the best possible primary and secondary education to prepare them for life.
That said, the quality of education in the United States can vary greatly from district to district and even from school to school within a district. Due to the way education is funded, schools in richer areas usually have more money to spend on newer equipment, more programs and have a bigger choice of quality teachers.
But you don’t need to move to a rich neighborhood to ensure your kids get a quality education. It can be done for down-right cheap just about anywhere.
1) Read to your children
Reading to your children from a young age creates a bonding opportunity and helps them learn. Studies have shown that reading to and with children increases vocabulary, attention span, thinking skills, and even IQ!
That’s right. In a study published in the Perpectives on Psychological Science, interactive reading to pre-school children increased their intelligence by an average of 6 points. To put that into perspective, the cutoff from average intelligence to genius-level intelligence is only 21 points.
2) Instill a lifelong love of learning
Think back to your own time in school. Who were the kids that performed the best? It was the ones that seemed to enjoy learning for learning’s sake. As adults, those who continue learning and honing their craft are the ones that get promoted, while others who are content with their level of knowledge get left behind.
A great example are my best friend from middle school (J) and from high school (S). J is a genius, a math savant. That year, he got a perfect score on the math section of the California Achievement Test. Later on when the PC game Tank Wars was all the rage, he was unbeatable because he could figure out the trigonometric functions intuitively. But he never cared for school. He didn’t pay attention in class and dropped out in high school. Today, I don’t even know anybody who knows where he is or what he is doing. Searching online was fruitless.
Meanwhile S is “merely” of above-average intelligence. But he processes grit and determination and a sheer love of learning. After graduating high school with a 4.2 GPA, he graduated cum laude in college, was accepted into a top-tier law school and is currently working in a very prestigious and difficult to get into internship at the Department of Justice.
That is the difference a lifelong love of learning can make.
3) Help with homework
Homework can be tough for some students. When a child gets stuck, they will need someone to turn to for help, or they will get frustrated and give up. Don’t let it get to that point. Offer to help with homework and do frequent reviews to make sure they know their material.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Studies have repeatedly shown that children who eat breakfast perform better and behave better on average than those who don’t.
When you think about it, it’s kind of a no-brainer. There is a grain of truth in those Snickers commercials. When you are hungry, you are distracted and can get kind of cranky. Besides, your brain needs glucose to function. Not enough and your thinking gets sluggish, decreasing your ability to concentrate, form memories, and think critically.
5) Online videos
There is no shame in not knowing something. But I’m a firm believer that when a lack of knowledge on a topic comes to your attention, you need to rectify that. If your child needs help with something and you don’t remember it well enough to help, or never learned it in the first place, there is help. Today, there are thousands of instructional videos on pretty much every topic imaginable. Khan Academy is a great place to start for free educational videos on hundreds of different topics.
6) Turn everything into a teaching opportunity
Never turn down the opportunity to teach your child something. In the latest Jumper novel, Davy uses a leaking heat exchanger to drill in lessons on volume and gas density.
Any time your child asks a question, encourage it by providing a thoughtful answer or help them work it out using tools discussed above.
What have you done to help educate your or others children?