The emerging workplace challenges and the prevalence of digital devices in our midst are only reminders of how fast we must move in order to raise smart kids ready for the 21st century.
Yes, the new century never stops to think, and coupled with the dawn of the 4th Industrial Revolution, parental responsibilities hinge on getting children ready for this evolution.
Besides technology, the rise in urbanization, new cultural mashups, and the shrinking of living spaces, all demand that parents everywhere must think hard about where and how their children will fit in the new context.
This involves merging the good in old school parenting, and whatever is necessary in the digital age.
Millennials happen to form the bulk of parents today, and aside from a handful of Baby Busters and Boomers, are more than willing partners in pioneering this digital journey.
Enter the 21st century, and most of them have mastered the workings of technology and are busy shaping the emerging 4IR revolution. Better still, they are mastering how best 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 strategies should probably kickstart your quest to raise smart kids ready for the 21st century.
1. Prioritize the formative years (0 – 8 years)
It is a fact that children learn extremely well during the 8 formative years of life. They take everything in and use them as building blocks for the life to come. The early experiences they have about life must be filled with the right content and skillsets.
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 them started.
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 rather, are 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. Seek relevant 21st century education
Every parent is charged with preparing the little ones for the work and life challenges of tomorrow. This has been complicated by the digital realities of the 21st century, where man is forced to compete with machines for office spaces.
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.
While it is also true that new opportunities will present themselves in the digital ecosystem, it is incumbent upon parents to seek relevant education and skills that will see their children join the workforce with an edge.
These skills are crucial for preparing them for success in today’s rapidly changing world. The 21st-century skills are a set of competencies that are essential for success in the workplace and in life.
They include critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication, digital literacy, and problem-solving.
Moreover, these skills helps them become more adaptable and flexible in the face of change. The world is constantly evolving, and kids who possess 21st-century skills are better equipped to adapt to new situations and take advantage of new opportunities.
Furthermore,these skills help them become more well-rounded individuals. They not only prepare them for the workplace but also help them become more effective communicators, collaborators, and problem-solvers in their personal lives.
Parents can encourage their children to develop these skills through engaging activities and experiences, while educators can incorporate them into the classroom curriculum.
Policymakers can also play a role in promoting the development of 21st-century skills by investing in education and workforce development initiatives.
4. Be the parents they seek
Being the parent that children seek is important for building a strong and healthy relationship with your children. When children feel comfortable seeking out their parents for advice, guidance, and support, they are more likely to develop a trusting and open relationship with them.
When children seek out their parents for advice and guidance, parents have the opportunity to provide them with valuable insights and perspectives that can help them navigate challenges and make important decisions.
When children feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and feelings to their parents, parents can help them navigate conflicts and find constructive solutions.
In addition, this relationship can promote a strong sense of family connectedness. When children feel comfortable seeking out their parents, it can strengthen the bond between parents and children, leading to a stronger sense of family unity.
Parents should make time to engage with their children, listen to their concerns, and provide them with the support and guidance they need.
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.
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 authoritative and stick to schedules
Authoritative parenting is important for maintaining a positive and healthy relationship between parents and children. This allows parents to set clear boundaries and expectations for their children while also respecting their children’s feelings and opinions.
When parents set clear boundaries and expectations, children learn to take responsibility for their actions and understand the consequences of their behavior.
Moreover, staying authoritative helps to establish a positive and respectful relationship between parents and children. When parents communicate with authority, they are able to express their expectations and feelings in a clear and respectful manner, which can lead to open and honest communication.
Additionally, authoritative parenting helps children develop important life skills such as problem-solving, decision-making, and conflict resolution. When parents model assertive behavior, children learn how to communicate their needs and assert themselves in a respectful and effective manner.
It is important to note that authoritative parenting should not be confused with authoritarian parenting. While authoritative parents set clear boundaries and expectations, they also allow their children to express their thoughts and feelings and are willing to listen to their perspectives.
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
Teaching kids to work is incredibly valuable for their personal development and future success. When children learn the value of hard work and the satisfaction that comes from completing a task, they develop important life skills such as responsibility, discipline, and perseverance.
In addition, when kids work, they learn the importance of contributing to society and being a productive member of their community. They also gain a sense of independence and self-sufficiency as they learn how to earn money and manage their own resources.
Moreover, teaching kids to work can also help them develop a strong work ethic that will serve them well in their future careers. They learn the importance of showing up on time, being reliable, and putting in the effort to achieve their goals.
Overall, it helps to prepare them for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in life.
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 kids are kept away from work, we are bound to raise children who are indifferent to work.
10. Praise and correct
Praising and correcting children is essential for their growth and development. When children receive praise for their achievements, it boosts their self-confidence and reinforces positive behavior.
This positive reinforcement helps them to feel good about themselves and encourages them to continue striving for excellence.
On the other hand, correcting children when they make mistakes is equally important. It teaches them the difference between right and wrong, and helps them to understand the consequences of their actions. Correction also provides guidance on how to improve and avoid making the same mistake in the future.
It is important to note that praise and correction should be balanced. Too much praise without any correction can lead to overconfidence and complacency, while too much correction without any praise can lead to low self-esteem and a lack of motivation.
Effective praise and correction involves being specific and timely. Instead of general statements like “good job,” parents and teachers should provide specific feedback that acknowledges the child’s effort and identifies the positive behavior that was exhibited.
Similarly, when correcting a child, it is important to explain why their behavior was incorrect and provide guidance on how to improve.
Overall, praising and correcting children is crucial for their emotional and intellectual development. It helps them to develop positive self-esteem, learn from their mistakes, and become responsible individuals who can navigate the world successfully.
11. Beware of negative habits
Making kids aware of negative habits in their lives is crucial for their personal growth and development. By bringing these habits to their attention, children can become more self-aware and take steps towards changing them.
Negative habits such as procrastination, lack of exercise, poor diet, and excessive screen time can have negative impacts on children’s physical and mental health. Making children aware of these habits and their potential consequences can motivate them to make positive changes in their lives.
In addition, awareness of negative habits can help children develop good habits that will benefit them in the long run. For example, by becoming aware of the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle, children may develop a habit of exercising regularly and prioritizing physical activity.
Moreover, making children aware of negative habits can help them become more accountable for their actions and decisions. They learn that their habits have consequences and that they have the power to change them. This can lead to increased self-discipline and a sense of control over their lives.
It is important to note that awareness should be accompanied by positive reinforcement. Children should be praised and rewarded for making positive changes in their lives, which can further motivate them to continue making healthy choices.
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
Play is an essential part of a child’s development and has many valuable benefits. Through play, children learn valuable social, emotional, and cognitive skills that will help them throughout their lives.
One of the most important benefits of play is that it helps children develop creativity and imagination. When children engage in imaginative play, they are able to explore new ideas and concepts, develop problem-solving skills, and learn to think outside the box.
Play also helps children develop social skills such as communication, cooperation, and empathy. When children engage in play with others, they learn to share, take turns, and negotiate, which are important skills for building positive relationships and navigating social situations.
Moreover, play helps children develop their physical abilities and coordination. Running, jumping, and climbing help to develop gross motor skills, while playing with blocks, puzzles, and other toys helps to develop fine motor skills.
Furthermore, play has been shown to have positive effects on children’s mental health. It provides a safe outlet for emotions, helps children to manage stress, and can improve self-esteem and confidence.
It is important to note that play should be a regular part of a child’s daily routine. Children need time to play in order to develop these skills and reap the benefits of play.
In conclusion, seeking 21st-century skills for kids is crucial for preparing them for success in today’s rapidly changing world. These skills help them become more adaptable, well-rounded, and better equipped to navigate the challenges of the 21st century. By working together, parents, educators, and policymakers can help kids develop these essential skills and prepare them for a bright future.