Nelson Mandela once said “No country can really develop unless its citizens are educated” and it is often said that education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world. I think that most would agree that education is an essential component for personal development but there is often a belief that education is based on academic prowess.
This is especially true of raising children, there is a common belief that an education is the primary factor in their future success. In part I think there is some truth to that, but when we look at the nature and nurture debate we know there is so much more to raising successful and thriving future leaders. In addition to that, time and time again we hear of successful people and entrepreneurs who were not necessarily academically astute but have become household names nevertheless (think Sir Richard Branson as an example).
I wanted to understand what it takes to ‘produce’ a successful and thriving child so I turned to mumpreneur Elaine Cunningham Walker, education strategist and mother of 2 genius sons (not just by her own decision, they were actually awarded as such by MENSA and appeared on hit show ‘Child Genius’). She believes every child has the ability to shine, if given the right environment - so I thought I would ask her how?
Before, I do so I wanted to give you some of the stats; in the UK according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) there were 679,106 live births in England and Wales in 2017. That said in the same year ONS confirmed that the number of 16-18 year olds who are considered NEET (Not in Employment Education or Training) had risen by 2% to 15.5% of the population. Leaving near enough 135,000 young people waiting to do something with their lives, this begs the question, what can parents be doing at the start of their children’s lives to improve their opportunities in the long term.
According to Elaine Cunningham Walker, “a successful child is one that is authentically themselves and knows who they are and where they are going. This comes with careful guidance of a parent who not only believes in the child but believes in what they offer and where they are going.” And Elaine does just that by working with parents to source the right schools to support the child’s needs. In addition, I often speak to mums and mumpreneurs who feel they are under pressure to do the best for their children but aren't sure what steps to take so Elaine seemed like the right person to ask!
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE
After much discussion, and believe me Elaine had a lot of valuable insights, we managed to whittle the tips down to the following 10;
Always be there for your child. Show the that everything may be falling apart around them, however you are the constant in their life. You are the one who always believes in them no matter what
Model the behaviour that you want from your children. Remember that children do what we do and not what we say. If a child is constantly saying shut up to you, ask yourself where they learnt it from.
Learn to praise your child for just being them and not for the things they have achieved. They were given to you with unique gifts and talents. Your role as a parent is to unearth that gift and help them blossom in it.
Understand your child’s learning style. When you do this, finding the right school is a lot less stressful as you place them in an environment where they can fly and thrive and not just survive.
Teach your children responsibility from an early age. Let them help around the house and make choices that empower them. By doing so you build your child’s self-esteem and their confidence.
It is very important to have discipline as part of your parenting; however, this has to be positive in order for it to be effective. Discipline cannot come from being punitive. Discipline is the derivative of the word disciple; therefore, you must always lead your children, show them the right way.
Teach your children how to be empathetic. Children who learn the skill of empathy end up being effective not just in their school, but in their community and at work.
Teach them a work ethic, being born with a gift doesn’t mean that you will be great. However constantly working at the gift and learning to get better is a good skill to have in success.
Embrace challenges and take risks, teaching children to try even when they feel they can’t is a brilliant tool in self-development.
Lessons can be learnt from Failure. Let children fail in a safe environment and that by failing, they learn great things about themselves.
Success is not just about academic goals (although they can be important), they are also about personal goals. We need to teach children that a low grade is not the definition of who they are. The learning process is much more important, they should always strive to be there best and look to the future with plans of where they are going and where they hope to end up.