Who’s Responsible for Preparing Kids for Work?
By Elane Scott and Rick Stephens
Birth2Work Co-Founders, parents, grandparents
Who is responsible? We’ll say it again. YOU are responsible for preparing today’s children for work of tomorrow.
Isn’t That the School’s Job?
Pick up almost any parenting magazine these days it’s sure to be filled with articles about school readiness. “What skills does your tot need to have to succeed?” “Should you red-shirt your child to gain an academic advantage?” Some parents are so worried about academic readiness that they pre-register their newborns at prestigious preschools feeling this is a critical step for their future.
Something changes however, as children grow older and become ingrained in the formal education system. Somehow the expectation for parents to prepare a child for the future slips away. The onus shifts gradually away from the parents and on to the school to prepare a child for work.
Schools can enable students with certain academic skills. They can inspire passions, open new worlds of information, and be great sources of support and strength for students and families. Schools are not prepared to be a one-stop shop for all that is required to navigate a career in the modern era, though.
With constantly evolving technology driving so many enterprises, the jobs our parents did yesterday and our neighbors do today may be gone for our children tomorrow. Not just outsourced, but no longer in existence. The landscape demands that our children become life-long learners capable of building on existing skills and willing to learn entirely new skills on demand.
The idea that schools be solely responsible for preparing children for their future careers has never been less feasible. The need for us all to take an active role in the lives of society’s children is more important than ever.
Preparing for Work Requires Preparing for Life
While it’s appropriate to depend on the school to teach your child geometry or AP history, you certainly are the best equipped person to teach about personal responsibility, the importance of communication, and even basic finances. These areas of knowledge bare enormous importance in a person’s ability to work productively and be successful.
Sometimes new skills required for a career are rooted in a specific body of knowledge, such as learning industry terminology or a particular software system. In other words, the mechanics of a field of work. Generally a person can acquire those types of skills in an academic or on-the-job-training environment.
We don’t often think about all of the other skills associated with being a competent professional or how those skills acquired. An employee at any job is expected to know how to manage their time. They should know how to communicate effectively and conduct themselves in a manner in accordance with the industry culture.
These are the types skills necessary to be successful at work that schools cannot be solely responsible for.
Work alone is not the singular end goal for any one person. It is likely, though, an ongoing concern for parents who see the rapid change of pace in the economy making economic prosperity a challenge for their children. As a result, they want to do everything they can early on to be sure their child can support themselves as an adult.
Is it necessary to enroll in a prestigious preschool from birth? No.
- Play with young children to develop simple number and letter recognition
- Read often to your babies and point out all the colors and feel all the textures so when they do enter school they have real-life experiences to build upon when asked to work with abstract forms
- Give them real-life experiences – again and again – so they can build upon as they grow older and are confronted with more responsibility
- Model the behavior you want to see them exhibit as adults
- Continue your leadership through the rest of their lives
School can only cover a certain breadth of work skills. Life skills are what you can teach better than any institution out there.
Everyone involved with the growth and development of children must believe in their own efforts to make a difference for the youth in their care. Birth2Work strives everyday to support you in doing so.
In easy to follow 10 minute modules, the Leading Your Child to Success course explores topics such as:
- Your purpose and goals as parents
- How to focus on the future
- Ensuring financial success
- What teens should learn at their first job
- Ways to promote healthy behaviors
- Expanding trust and openness in your home
- The impact of Media
- The role of parents in education
Birth2Work is a federally recognized not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization
(Tax ID# 51-0137861).
Our mission is to enable anyone involved in the life of a child to become a confident leader in preparing children and families for a successful future. We embrace future parents, current parents, grandparents, and the beloved friends and community who help us raise all of our children together.