I recently had a conversation with the mother of a fourteen year old boy. She was freaked out, saying her son was feeling anxiety about preparing for college. She complained he was too young to start prepping. I couldn’t disagree more. Parents should start helping their children plan for their future (college or other post high school plans) much sooner. A great deal can be accomplished earlier, so there will be less pressure later.
I observed this during my 40+ year career teaching both college prep and non-college prep students. Students whose families started supporting their future plans when they were little suffered far less stress and anxiety. They seemed calm and almost serene. I also witnessed this while doing research for my book, Free College Awareness.
All the steps families need to follow are in my upcoming book, but here’s one strategy parents can start right now. This one is appropriate for elementary aged and older students. The next time you’re out shopping, stop by an office supply store, paper boutique, or big box store. Find a wall mounted, age appropriate calendar for the upcoming year. Pick up some stickers and colored pens too.
Sit down with your child and your own personal planner. Start with the holidays already listed on the calendar. Guide your child in decorating those days, leaving space to write something later, if the need should arise. Second, note the birthdays of family members and close friends. Again, let your child dress up the date. Third, mark school events, such as the first and last day of school, back to school night, and the like.
If there’s anything in your planner for the upcoming year that impacts your child, show him/her how to write it on the correct date. Use different colored markers selected by your child. What you’re doing is demystifying the organizational process. Hang the calendar on the wall or back of the door in your child’s bedroom. If two children share a room, it will cause less conflict if they each have their own calendar and space where it is hung.
As time goes on, and other events or appointments come up, inform your child and assist him/her in recording it on the correct date. The younger your child when you begin using this process, the more guidance will be needed. As time goes on, or if he/she is older, very little help will be necessary. Just encourage children to develop the habit of recording upcoming events, both the fun ones, and all the rest. When you do so, you’re teaching them one of the sixteen strategies used by all full ride scholarship winning students. They use wall calendars and are very organized.
In answer to the question posed in the title of this article, there’s no such thing as too young. Parents begin setting things up for the child when he/she is little, and the child takes over as he/she matures.
For more information, you’ll want my new book, Free College Awareness, coming soon from Griffin Publishing. How to avoid needing college loans; available soon to families of Pre-K through High School students.
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