The prevalence of digital devices in our homes and workplaces is only a reminder of the need to raise smart kids, ready for the 21st century.
The new century has shipped with emerging digital advances in what is known as the 4th Industrial Revolution and our assignment is to get children ready for this evolution.
Besides technology, the rise in urbanization, cultural mingling, and decreasing living spaces, all mean that the 21st-century child must learn to think differently.
This involves merging the good in old school parenting, and the good in digital parenting – if such a thing actually exists!
Otherwise, there is the risk of sounding irrelevant in the eyes of the modern-day Alpha child, a cohort that must be brought up around technology.
Millennials happen to form the bulk of parents today, and aside from a handful of Baby Busters and Boomers, were raised at a time when technology was taking shape.
Enter the 21st century, and they have mastered the workings of technology and are busy shaping the emerging 4IR revolution. Just as well, they are mastering how to use this technology in the lives of their children.
Here is how to raise smart kids ready for the 21st century
A few of the following parenting styles should probably kickstart your quest to raise smart kids ready for the 21st Century.
1. Start early by prioritizing 0 – 8 years
It is a fact that children learn extremely well during the 8 first years of life. They take everything in and use them as building blocks for the life to come.
They use early experiences in life to fill the void they are born with as well as preparing for life to come.
They watch, listen to, play, eat, learn to speak, ask questions, learn to read, and ultimately discover themselves in the first eight years of life.
Equally important, children discover technology very early in life. They are curious about smartphones and tablets which are littered around the house. These are shoved in their faces from day one when parents and family eagerly take pictures.
Planning ahead and getting them to understand that technology is integral to their existence is a sure way to get started, and of course, raise smart kids ready for the 21st Century.
2. Enhance digital literacy at home
As mentioned above, children in the 21st Century meet technology the minute they pop out of the womb. The cameras, the flashes, and all modern-day medical equipment fascinate them almost immediately. They realize soon, this is part of life.
Parents must learn the tools the little fellows crave as they grow up, or else smartphones and other tech devices will parent children on your behalf.
Starting with Generation Z, and now Alpha, technology is at the forefront of everything they do. Kids queuing up in stores are not complaining but are rather happy they have time enough to delve into social media. Those hanging out in the open fields are not engaging in physical activities but rather, busy on smartphones: – not cool I know.
To start with, they should not use phones when doing house chores or during meal times, and so shouldn’t you.
They should be open about what they read, view, and exchange online with friends, and report anything inappropriate, coming from their peers.
The more parents understand technology, the more likely they will discover what works and what does not, in a bid to raise smart kids.
3. Go for relevant education
Every parent is charged with preparing the little ones for a challenging work-life when they grow up. This has been complicated by the digital realities of the 21st century, where man is forced to compete with machines for office spaces.
While it is also true new opportunities will present themselves in the new digital ecosystem, it is incumbent upon parents to seek relevant education that will see their children join the workforce with an edge.
This involves providing far-sighted and student-centered education.
The Current education models still fall short of what the future job market demands. Besides getting the right education and educators, parents and children have to think and evolve together just as the technology ecosystem evolves.
4. Be the parents they expect
Parents today are caught sandwiched between responsibilities at work and parenting. They are tired by the end of the day, and usually devoid of happiness that should help cheer up the little fellows.
Children are born into a wonderful world, but one full of complex realities. It so happens, that parents are crucial in ensuring they fit in early enough, and get the feeling they are welcome.
It is incumbent upon parents to balance productivity at work, and raising kids ready for the 21 Century.
5. Avail quality time
The hustle and bustle of life today keep the multitasking parents away from home most of the day. Nannies are thus entrusted with many parenting tasks.
While nannies are a good thing, the touch and feel of real parents can never be equaled. It cements parent-child bonding and you will discover behavioral patterns and anything peculiar you will miss out on by staying away.
The closer and more a parent hangs out with children, the better the bonding and the more intelligent they become. It also helps them avoid addiction and all the bad things tech.
The kids below five will definitely embrace good or bad manners this early. Use these years to instill values in them that nannies are possibly not capable of.
Daddy time too is especially crucial and should never be underestimated. Since moms are usually available most of the time, it is the fathers that need to create more time. By merging the input of both parents, you are most definitely on course to raise smart kids today.
6. Watch your tone!
Good parenting styles do not involve screaming at young kids. Voices should be kept low when interacting with them. If you must, take it somewhere else.
Most importantly, do not scream and abuse children out of anger for whatever reason. It leaves them insecure and may grow up with low self-esteem. This affects their roads towards innovative and smart adults.
Children are always learning and will annoy you now and then. But that is no reason to get hyper.
In any case, they may never understand the mistakes they have done until they are much older.
7. Stay assertive and stick to schedules
Assertive parenting is described as the optimal approach to parenting where discipline, security, and boundaries are set for children to follow. An assertive parent is loving, firm, positive, and consistent.
You have also to develop a routine by doing stuff at the right time. Children grow up better knowing everything is planned. This helps to fight off behavior arising from irregular activities such as picky eating.
For example, waking up early in the morning and having the chores done on a timely routine, is a sure way to groom responsible children. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner should be ready at regulated hours on a daily basis.
Second, time for meals should be respected and not messed up by other activities, like cell phone usage. Parents should set an example by putting mobile phones aside.
Kids too should have a right to let the parents know they are doing wrong if they use cell phones during a meal. There should be no double standards.
8. Teach values
From the word go, children need to learn behavioral tenets that have guided the morally upright people around the world. They should learn honesty, humility, generosity, and love, early on.
Above all, they should learn to be considerate of the feelings of others who are offended by their actions and learn to say sorry. Most of these tenets were taught in homes and Sunday school in the days gone by, and thankfully, are still emphasized in a few places.
As a whole, however, society has evolved, and new parenting styles seem to be taking the place of righteousness and religion. Religion helps groom conscience, a fact of life that is fast eluding society today.
Conscience allows the kids to know the difference between right and wrong. For example, religion teaches that killing, stealing, and coveting add up to bad choices. In the same vein, honesty, kindness, generosity, and respect make a good person. Children bought up without conscience grow up unaware of the responsibilities to themselves and those around them.
9. Teach work
Children should begin learning the responsibilities of life when still young. Let them do the little chores at home and somehow will appreciate the value of work. Let them do utensils, clean portions of the house, etc. They will not be intimidated or embarrassed when the time for real work comes, later on in life.
When we keep kids away from work, we are bound to raise children who are indifferent to work.
10. Praise and correct
A parent is a guardian angel designed to put the children right. Teach them about the wrongs and rights of life but do not expect them to be perfect, because, neither are you.
Kids should be praised when they do the right stuff and should be cautioned when they err. While at it, you do not need to be harsh. Still, you must be firm while correcting them.
When they understand the seriousness of the matter, they will avoid it next time around. Even if they fail to learn fast enough, you have to exercise patience and correct them again and again.
11. Beware of negative habits
Restrain from indulging in habits that will confuse and redirect children away from the right path. Habits such as smoking, alcoholism, arguing, and fighting, especially before the little ones will instill in them the same traits.
The children will most probably embrace these habits and become abusive themselves during teen and adult life.
Instead, educate them about the consequences of these and similar habits and how they should stay away from them.
12. Let them play
Children grow up wanting to touch everything and running everywhere. That is our plan in life anyway. Parents are however driven by fear to control these desires.
Yes, many unwanted things can happen to children out of excitement, but children do these because it is what they are designed to do.
Get out of the way and let them explore the world.
This stimulates both the physical body and the mind. When the physical body is in excellent form and the mind is alert, we all tend to think creatively and outperform our sedentary lifestyles.
Only then will the roads towards raising smart kids will be achieved!