Full of surprises

When it comes to academics, parents today face a ton of pressure! 

Even before our children are born, we’re encouraged to read to them and expose them to music in utero.

Then there are the educational toys required to foster early math, reasoning and motor skills. And the music and movement classes. 

We must make our kids smart to give them a learning leg up, an edge in life. 

But be careful: If your toddler starts showing signs of intelligence and wit, you shouldn’t necessarily tell her she’s “smart.” No, you must emphasize the value of hard work — to encourage a growth mindset — to put her on a path to early college readiness. 

With preschoolers, we must read — to them and with them — constantly; we must present our kids with math problems in the car to encourage pre-algebra skills; and our kids need to be involved in sports as soon as possible so they can learn teamwork, patience and kindness (and become sports stars, too, natch). 

Got all that?

Though I tremendously enjoy watching my son learn about the world (and develop new amazing skills along the way), I do find the demands our culture puts on us positively daunting. 

This month — with our annual Education Issue — I hope we can help with new ways to look at early learning and academics (and take some of the pressure off).

When editing this issue, I was surprised to learn many things: 

  • Our kids aren’t getting enough recess. And a less-is-more teaching attitude may be the solution. (Thanks, again, Finland.)
  • A gap year for high school grads needn’t be a year to simply slack; in fact, numerous gap programs give kids incredible learning opportunities (and they’re still allowed college placement afterward). (And, psst: Where your kid goes to college doesn’t matter as much as you think.)
  • Our kids have the power to be the best preventers of bullying. 
  • The HPV vaccine — yes, for 11- and 12-year-olds — makes perfect sense.
  • You can make brownies with black beans instead of flour. (Why is this education related? My kid’s home lunches just got higher in protein.)  
  • I knew praise was bad if overused (and I knew I was supposed to emphasize hard work). But, thanks to this issue, I now know the art of simple acknowledgement (and listening). (See The Uncensored Toddler for the full story.)

I hope you, too, find some interesting tidbits in this issue so you and your kids can actually enjoy the ride from early learning to kindergarten and all the way into those post-college years. 

They’re coming faster than you think!