One of the key influences in my ability to help coach my children was my willingness to ask successful children and their parents questions about how their success was achieved. (Both of my children completed school at Harvard grad school). Interestingly, I have only had very few parents ask me similar questions. So, I will provide you some answers to those unasked questions.
Assume that each child is an independent little learning sponge with the ability to absorb and retain knowledge from day one. Letting a young child know that you love and enthusiastically respect their ability to learn and apply new knowledge is a very good starting point. You have to be absolutely sincere in your acknowledgment.
Reading to your children then questioning them to ensure retention of what they have heard is important. As they learn, always acknowledge their achievements. Do not overdo it because it can have a negative impact.
Think in terms of trying to move to areas with good schools and motivated students. While this is not always possible, you can visit potential schools and seek information on what is working in those schools. Volunteer for school improvement committees or a similar group which will help you meet the key personnel and explain yourself and your child.
Do a little research as to what local and/or regional programs are available to help kids, such as Talent Identification Programs, support groups, etc. Do the work because it can offer big rewards.
At about age four/five, start an “Outstanding Achievement List” which lists every outstanding and very good achievement of the student on one list. This can be done on your Lists app on your smartphone. (Don’t forget to periodically upload it to the cloud!) At the tenth birthday celebration, announce the “Outstanding Achievement List” by saying “I’ll bet that you don’t remember doing some of the things on this list. When you get ready to apply for colleges and scholarships, we are going to send your list!” The list should quadruple by age sixteen.
Think strategically about directions that you can recommend for your child to venture into, such as leadership roles, coming up with creative solutions to school and community problems, volunteer opportunities, gaining appointments to positions of provenance. Ask your child to write family update letters, etc. to help them master this most critical skill. This brings me to the number one tool that I recommend to both parents and students from age three to age ninety-nine – KhanAcademy.org, the “FREE” online “World Class” Education Website.
I recommend starting with math because a strong mathematical foundation leads to success in every other aspect of educational learning. Don’t just try to fix your upper math such as algebra, calculus, etc., go back to adding and quickly move forward. Also, parents around the world can back up to adding on the site then go forward in learning whatever is the “New Math” now and into the future for FREE! Think about the power of all parents being able to help their kids with arithmetic and math, and then, all other subjects.
These are some of the things I used to help my children. I hope they can positively impact your children and grandchildren.
Thanks for listening!
–William Leroy Kennedy
Beyond his career as an engineer, diversity and training manager, and financial advisor, he asserts, “Getting to teach others about how to become more financially astute has been one of the most rewarding parts of my career.”
While doing all of the above, Mr. Kennedy managed to help raise his daughter and son, six years apart, to become outstanding students with a true sense of community. They graduated from UNC Chapel Hill/Harvard Law School and Stanford/Harvard Business School, respectively.
Many hours were spent working with church, civil rights, and community organizations in an effort to help produce progress. Motivating youth to be all that they can be is a constant goal of Mr. Kennedy.
He is very high on using khanacademy.org as an educational tool that can help all, regardless of age or learning disability, succeed in life. “Every adult and child should visit the site” is his motto.