Working together through continuous learning to improve the quality of life for all in DeKalb County, Indiana
An education initiative of the Community Foundation of DeKalb County

Help make college a priority

The Star

by Nichole Hacha-Thomas

Thursday, March 31, 2011

As a parent, you worry constantly about your child’s future. Will she be successful? Will he find a job that suits him? How do you support and encourage your child, and help him or her prepare for a happy and productive life?

Damen Lopez, author of “No Excuses University,” tells the story about a nightly ritual regardless of what had gone on in his busy, working class family. Each night his mother would tuck Damen and his brother into bed, read a story and then pat each of them on the chest as she whispered, “after high school comes college.”

A 2010 Gallup Poll found that 75 percent of parents thought a college education was very important, compared to only 58 percent in 1983. Parents are becoming more aware of the changing job market and know that for their children to be employed in the future, they will need to learn beyond high school.

When parents plant seeds of big dreams, communicate the importance of learning, set expectations that their children will do their best in school and show interest in their children’s education, they set their children on a path towards career training or college and beyond.

Some of the things parents can do to set their children on the path to further learning and assist them with that journey include:

  • Verbally letting their children know that some kind of post-high school learning is important and a goal to work towards.
  • Find out their children’s interests and what professions are associated with those
  • interests. Research with your children what education, training and skills would be needed to work in those professions. Point out the occupations of others and discuss what education or training would be needed to do that job.
  • Read to your children and provide a variety of books for them to read. Make use of the library. Take books along on outings instead of electronic games.
  • Plan time for homework and let your children know the expectation is that all homework is to be completed and turned in on time.
  • Structure a daily routine and include time to discuss your child’s schoolwork and papers that have been brought home.
  • Make contact with teachers to discuss learning strengths and concerns.
  • Show interest in your child’s education by attending programs, literacy events and being as involved as you can.
  • Require your child to attend school and be on time. If something gets in the way, solve the problem together.
  • Encourage your child to be curious about the world around him. Make learning fun and exciting.
  • Prepare your child for a productive day at school by making sure he gets adequate rest and takes any materials he’ll need to school.
  • Teach and expect respectful and appropriate behavior from your children while at school.

Begin thinking about post-high school training or college before your child is a high school student. The vision of going to college, building a strong academic foundation and acquiring the skills that build success should begin in elementary school and even earlier. It is the whisper and actions from the parents that can set a child towards college, reaching their full potential and a lifetime of learning.

Learning Link, launched in 2009, is an initiative of the DeKalb County Community Foundation that helps link people and organizations providing learning opportunities for children and adults and align their educational goals. This series, “What’s in your parenting toolbox?” is written by the Adult Lifelong Learning team which encourages adults to improve themselves, their families and their community through continuous learning.

Resources for college expectations Website: Parent learning opportunities: Opportunities: Click on Parenting Resources Brochure for a list of more than 30 opportunities, or call Judy Sorg at 925-0311.