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Teaching the Importance of College to a Young Child

by Susan Revermann

You can’t force your child go to college after he graduates high school, no matter how much you wish you could. Instead, take a more proactive, gentle approach by introducing the topic to him while he is still young. This will get him excited about the idea and give him something to look forward to in the future. It also helps to establish some academic routines now to better prepare him for his future.

Read to your child often. This will introduce him to the wonderful world of books and information. Show him how to look things up in the dictionary, encyclopedia and other reference books. Let him know that books contain a large amount of knowledge, which is passed down from generation to generation. This builds a strong foundation for learning and research skills that he will need in college.

Ask your child what he wants to be when he grows up. Even if his dream job changes weekly, explain that many jobs require a college degree. Talk about the special classes he must take in college to obtain the knowledge to be successful at a job. For instance, a doctor needs to take anatomy first to learn how to fix people's injuries or a lawyer needs to take law classes so that he can help innocent people stay out of jail.

Take your child on a field trip to your college or any local college. Show him the recreation areas, such as the student center with an air hockey table and a stocked vending machine. Eat a meal in the cafeteria. Check out a science lab, astronomy observatory or the dorms. If it’s your college, share a few “G-rated” stories about the good ol’ days. Get him excited about the idea of higher education and all that it entails.

Play the game “Life” with your child. At the beginning of the game, you must choose to go the career path or the college path. Spread out the career cards before starting and show your child all of the careers that need a college degree.

Have a frank conversation about money with your child. Discuss the different types of bills and other expenses. Explain that people who earn college degrees usually -- but not always -- make more money when they become established in their careers. Mention that having more money will allow him to do more stuff, like take vacations to theme parks or buy a nice car.

Tips

  • Establish a good school attendance ethic in a child's early school years. Explain that each day at school is important and that his attendance in class means he can ask the teacher questions and hear her discuss the information firsthand. If he gets used to attending class now, he will be more likely to see the importance of attending his college classes.
  • Get him into a daily homework routine early. Set a designated time for his homework and be available to help with his questions, but do not complete the homework for him. He will need strong homework skills in college, and he will feel more confident in his abilities if you encourage him to do the work to succeed. Those grades are important for getting into college, too.

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