Only the Best for our Brood!

 

At the Cornell University.

 

I have yet to meet parents who would genuinely want to see their children fail in life. Do we not as parents, aspire only the very best for our children? Do we not pray that they turn into people whom God intends them to be? Do we not wish that they could lead an empowered life, so that whatever direction they choose later on they will remain true to their essence as individuals (despite living in a culture of expectations and competitions)? We dream, desire and hope noble things for our kids because we love them. However, love is not an intention but rather an act. We love our children; that is why we equip them with the necessary tools to help them live their way to success.

My husband and I have four kids: two pre-teens, a lower elementary student and a preschooler. All four children are fantastic and remarkable in their own way. Like many families, ours is a one-income household. We have situations where money becomes a key factor. We are a military family of six but what makes us probably different from most is that we are constantly moving homes. So far we have had 11 major relocations. We raise our children under the concept that home is where our family is. Our way of life may be seen as in no way conducive to raising healthy and well-rounded children, but somehow I realized that what others see as irregular environment can be transformed into a series of learning opportunities.

Visiting the Martin Luther King Historic Site.

 

How many children have done cross-country trips? And how many of these kids have done campus and historical site tours while travelling from coast to coast? My family is fortunate to have done all these. Still, I do not know if visiting Ivy League schools like Brown University, Cornell, or Harvard will start a collegiate aspiration from my brood. I am not at all sure whether a walking tour of CNN’s headquarters in Atlanta will motivate them to follow current events. Or whether our visit to Martin Luther King’s Church and Museum will touch their sense of history.

Children thrive on consistency, regardless of where their family is in life or what their family’s circumstances may be. However, consistency does not rest on purpose alone; every action we take could potentially affect the goal we prepare for our children. We get them books and whatever academic material we can find. What advantage will these do if we preoccupy kids with video games and TV shows? We say we want them to be healthy. Why then do we fill our cupboards with junk foods and provide them with regular diet of grease and sweets? We are not always correct as parents, but we do the best we could so that we can be right for our kids’ sake.

Guidelines are valuable tools in helping parents plan a solid strategy for their children’s future. Below is a list of practical tips that my husband and I turned to when we had to decide what educational route to take for our children. I hope it helps others as it helped us.

 

Guide to Choosing the Best Course in the Education of Children

1. Make a list of your child’s strengths and weaknesses, including distinctive needs if there are. Understand your child’s  interests, behavioral patterns, and personality traits.

Many parents would often find it hard to come up with a list of their children’s strengths, weaknesses, and potential because they have not properly invested the time to look into them, and consequently require an effort to understand each one’s uniqueness. Recognizing your child’s uniqueness will help you plot a developmental course that is in sync with his individual traits.

 2. Understand what fits your child’s needs and how it blends in your family’s way of life.

I always believe that children have the capacity to learn and integrate information fast. However, parents must recognize that each child’s brain is wired differently. If we teach two healthy children the same method to read, and one becomes a better reader than the other does this mean the other is slow? Or does it tell us that perhaps the concept of one-size-fits-all method of learning does not work well; more so in cases where particular circumstances must be considered?

It is also necessary to consider how meeting our goals for our kids blend in our family’s way of life. Certain activities or schools may address a child’s needs, but if these break the budget or mess up relationships in the family, then in all likelihood these are not worth pursuing. My older daughter’s best friend is a girl scout. She has been egging her father and me to let her join, too. Being in the Girl Scouts is totally time-consuming. It will eat into many of our family weekends, aside from potentially inviting resentment among her siblings. My husband and I may be raising our children to be supportive and understanding of each other, but I seriously doubt it if they will be generous enough to give up their respective development, so they could support one sibling.

  3. We cannot meet every need at the same time. Determine what your priorities are for your child. 

 Who says having everything we want is not possible, within reason? We can have it all; we just cannot have it all at the same time. Consequently, not everything that we want or need for our children is a priority. Given that many of us operate with decidedly limited resources (money, time and attention); we have to agree on which ones we can afford and which can wait a while.

In our family, we started to narrow down the activities we deemed potentially useful for our children’s development. Good values and character formation remain our topmost priority. We call for continuous exposures to events that support and enhance ethical values and character development. In the field of sports, we focus on martial arts, swimming and golf, but we are only heavily invested on the first one. In academic-related activities, we provide them with speed-reading exercises, math challenges, and foreign language lessons. For life skills, we focus primarily on budget and home management.

  4. Do shop for available resources, but start with the ones close by. Also, search for networks, organizations, and clubs that offer scholarships or free activities.

Opportunities for learning are available everywhere. If we redirect our energy and focus on what’s available in the community, we will be amazed at how many opportunities for learning are out there waiting to be explored. There are local churches that offer free music lessons, leadership workshops, and etcetera. Check out the community libraries for activities. Look for non-government organizations that are involved in your area.

Red Cross would sometimes sponsor free classes at our local library. Some time ago, I found myself lined up an hour before the library opens, so I could sign up my two older children in a Red Cross Baby Sitting Certification Class. Although I was not the first in line, I was still able to register my kids at no cost. Normally, the fee for this class starts at $65.00/student.

 

A note to those who want private education for their children but could not afford it:

We see education as a priority for our kids, and it is our desire to provide them with the best education possible that is why some of us opt for private schools even if we already know we cannot afford it. If you live in a country where public education is available, and your family has access to computers and community resources, your children will have a competitive opportunity to quality education. Being in public school, you will now become aware of your accountability as the main proponent of a quality education. Instead of paying monies you do not have to a private school and then leaving the school with the sole control over your kids’ academic success; you will now be required to become active participants in the learning process. This would not be an issue, would this? After all, we are the parents who love our children so much we are willing to do everything in our ability to help them succeed in life.

 
 
 
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