Parents of school-age kids, this one is for you. Especially if you're thinking about going into a "good grades" convulsion this school year. If you're not planning to have an "A stands for acceptable in this house!" tirade, but you know you're susceptible -- perhaps due to your own experience with parental pressure about good grades or your own educational failures in life -- you should probably read this too.
Of course, we all want our kids to make good grades in school. However, at the same time, there are so many more important, life-important lessons and skills our kids can come home from school with. Keep this list in mind before frothing at the mouth and letting loose that awful vein down the middle of your forehead at the sight of the first report card.
I swear, there are AT LEAST 20 things that will take you further in life than good grades:
- Getting an education. Odds are you've forgotten 90 percent of what you were tested on in school. The 10 percent you remember? That's education.
- Being excited about learning. So your kid comes home with a B or even a C ... what's more worrisome is if he or she comes home bored and unexcited about learning.
- Tying your shoelaces. Not to stress those of you with four- and five-year-olds out, but your kid's not going to go very far in life without this skill. Literally. It's really hard to walk.
- Being just bad enough. Here's a life lesson that will take your kids further in school, college, work and life. There's a fine line between having fun and ending up in the principal's office. (Here are five mistakes everyone should make.)
- Learning to accept your authentic self. Your kids might not be "A" students, but if they are working hard and not slacking off, then less-than-perfect grades are fine. Parental love and acceptance is more important than perfect grades.
- Knowing what your true skills are. Graduate school was very hard for me at times. I'll never forget a professor who acknowledged the importance of the person in the discussion group (me) who "added humor" and "lightened up the overly serious people." Your kids' assets may not be the traditional academic kind. (Consider bagpiping, logic or these other weird majors.)
- Staying sane. Never underestimate the importance of good mental and emotional health over studying day in and day out. Kids who are pushed too hard often crack under the pressure.
- Being a good friend. School can be a sandbox for figuring out who you are and how you relate to other people. You develop your social skills and forge relationships that will teach you for a lifetime -- things like "treat others how you want to be treated." And while learning to be be a good friend, your kids will also learn to other important lessons like how to lose friends, end unhealthy friendships and move on.
- Failing can be a gift. Watching your kids fail is a tough one for most parents. Like many things in life though, sometimes we need to fail at something before we can master it. (These success stories didn't even graduate.)
- Understanding your process. Educational failures can also be eye-opening revelations for a student (i.e., "I learn by reading/writing/discussing/doing") and can help them to learn valuable things about their personalities, their work styles, their limitations, what does and doesn't work for them, and what they really want to learn.
- Being a good sport. Whether in actual sports or other competitive activities like debate team, your kids can pick up important life skills like the rewards of a competitive spirit, working as part of a team, persevering through loss and that competition always makes you better -- even if you don't win every time.
- Being well-rounded. A good education isn't straight out of a textbook. Extracurricular activities and electives like photography and wood shop develop skills beyond academics and help provide skills your kids can take far beyond schooling. (Guess which A-list celeb studied veterinary studies.)
- Questioning authority. The sooner the better on this one and, of course, learning to do it with respect and tact. Teachers (and bosses) don't know everything and are often far from perfect.
- Reading can be fun. And the kind of reading you're forced to do to get straight A's isn't always the fun kind. Sometimes! But not always.
- Being perfect is more harmful than helpful. How many employers have ever checked your GPA? None, right? If being perfect is killing your child with stress or panic or ruining her love of learning, taking it down a notch might be more beneficial. (Just don't spend all that time partying at these colleges.)
- Having good "people" skills. It's not what you know but who you know, right? Being able to network with the right people and work with all kinds of people -- especially the difficult ones -- is a profound asset in work and in life.
- Knowing the most important skill set for your career path. Unless your child is determined to be a doctor or a lawyer, reading until one's eyes bleed may not be the most important skill set. Making powerful friends, getting key references, building a great resume, learning a job-specific skill, or gaining hands-on experience might actually serve them better. (Maybe you or your kids should skip college.)
- Being able to prioritize well. This will help you be more successful in 90 percent of the critical areas of your life: work, health, money, marriage, kids.
- Living a balanced life. The guy who does the best job at work doesn't necessarily have the best life. In fact, if he spends so much time on work, he may be, in fact, neglecting other areas in life like: building relationships, relaxing, having fun.
- Getting an education is critical. Even if your child is not making straight A's or going for valedictorian, there's sure a heck of a lot of important stuff to learn!
What lessons that you learned in school have taken you farther in life than good grades?
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