With general despair, I have watched parents–from the moment Junior emerges from the womb–dedicating themselves to the sole purpose of getting their child into the very best college. First, there was Baby Einstein and flash cards. Soccer is now beginning for 4-year-old children. Piano at 5. Karate and Mandarin at 6. Then there is travel baseball and private trainers at 10. By middle school children are so programed they have no down time. No time for family dinners. No time to decide for themselves what they enjoy doing. No exploring with friends in the woods behind the house for hours and discovering hidden passions and talents. No leadership that isn’t force-fed through planned undertakings.
My kid is doing well in school, and by and large, she seems like a pretty smart kid. How did we get her going in the right direction? By reading to her starting before she was born. By never talking down to her and treating her like an individual. By getting her to question her assumptions and making her consider the consequences of her actions. And mostly, by trying to be smart ourselves in hopes that we serve as a good example.