Parents as owners of their children’s education

I’ve been a Charles Schwab customer for more than two decades. I love Schwab’s crisp customer service, impeccable ethics, and support for becoming a smarter investor.

I recently watched the Company’s new commercial, Own Your Tomorrow, and was inspired by how closely Schwab’s world view aligns with ours at GreatSchools.

“I’ve always thought the best part about this country is that we get to create our future,” says the company’s founder, Charles Schwab. In another video, he adds: “I’ve always believed that the sense of ownership is really crucial in a good outcome, whether it’s your school, whether it’s your career, or whether it’s investing.”

I couldn’t agree more. The ownership mindset is the foundation of success in so many domains of life, including education. In the early years, parents need to own their children’s education, before young people themselves take on that role.

What does that mean in practice? Five things, I’d say:

1. Set goals. 

When you take ownership of your children’s education, you are setting goals for their future. Instead of going through the motions of schooling, you’re proactively guiding them toward a result. You might think: “I want my child to be able to go to a competitive college” or “I want my child to be hard-working and resilient” or perhaps “I want my child to be able to move out of the house by the time they are 20”. Over time, you share these goals with your children and help them understand why they matter.

2. Learn constantly. 

Taking ownership for something means learning about it. You’ll be much better investor if you know the difference between a stock and a bond. Likewise, you’ll be a much more successful parent if you’re regularly learning new things about how children develop and learn. Constant learning not only helps you get better at supporting your child’s growth, it also sets an example of lifelong learning for your child.

3. Take initiative. 

Parents who own their children’s education don’t expect schools to do all the work. They see themselves as their children’s first teacher and as role models for learning. They know that much of the heavy lifting is done at home: establishing the value of education, setting expectations for behavior and effort, and, when possible, choosing the right school. They look to leverage community resources to enrich their children’s lives and accelerate their learning.

4. Track progress. 

Setting goals is the first step, but tracking progress is just as important. Parents who take ownership over their children’s education are closely attuned to their children’s progress at school. They’re also reflecting on their children’s progress from their own point of view. Can my third grade child read and discuss a third-grade level book? Does my child demonstrate traits I care about like persistence or curiosity? Is my child beginning to take ownership of his/her education?

5. Solve problems. 

Parenting is a challenging and dynamic process. One thing is sure: your child’s learning and development will not occur in a predictable, linear fashion. There will be bumps in the road. Taking ownership means recognizing and solving problems as they arise, and staying committed when things get tough. When parents demonstrate persistence, they are acting as role models as well as helping their children overcome short-term obstacles.

Thank you, Charles Schwab, for articulating this vision so clearly. At GreatSchools, our goal is to help parents take ownership of their children’s education in these five ways and beyond. We’re just getting started on our quest, and I can’t wait for the upcoming chapters!

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1 Comment

  1. magnetangel

     /  November 7, 2013

    I tend to think of it as my investing, and their taking ownership. When schools are not satisfactory, I’ve tried to improve them. If that didn’t work, we found better schools and tried to make those schools even better. But from the youngest ages, my kids shared in the decision making and took responsibility for their learning. I can guide, but I need them to be responsible or else the best schools in the world can’t make them learn.


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