A few weeks ago Bubs and I attended a college Scholarship Competition. The college invites potential students who have a specific GPA and ACT score to interview for the top scholarships. During this time, we also had the opportunity to visit classes and meet professors. The Engineering Department Chair shared something I can’t stop thinking about. While academics are important, the following factors are what define your child’s success in the job market. Below are the five tips the professor shared.
#1 – Learn to Write Professional Emails
This sounds so simple. But in a world of texting and the use of elaborate abbreviations (e.g. LOL, IMOH, BRB, NBD). children are not practicing the art of writing a formal, respectful email. We are talking about complete sentences, punctuation, and properly addressing the email.
In our home, this started with writing thank you cards to family and friends after birthdays. As they’ve gotten older, writing emails to managers at work and teachers has provided ample learning opportunities. For example, Bubs communicates with his teachers through email as well as in-person. When we began teaching how to write a formal email, we discussed what needed to be communicated first. Then he independently wrote the email but always asked me to proofread it. Now he simply has me check for grammar and spelling errors he may have overlooked. Much like when he was younger, we began with training and moved to accountability.
#2 – Learn Time Management
College is an expensive time to learn time management. Sadly, too many students learn the importance of time management when they are eyeball deep into the semester and there isn’t time to pull up their failing grades.
We began teaching our children time management by giving them chores and responsibilities. Chores must be done before a certain time or before specific activities can occur. For example, Peanut must have the trash gathered by a certain time for his sister to help him take the trash barrels to the road. If he is past that time, he has to walk them by himself.
Bubs has had to learn time management while taking college classes in high school, finishing his senior year with AP classes, and being a Team Leader at Chick-fil-A in the evenings and on the weekends (not Sundays, of course!). As a mom, I have had to stop giving reminders, wake up calls, and nagging. For example, this summer Bubs got into the habit of sleeping through his alarm. Since it was a new schedule, I woke him the first and second time. The third time I didn’t because he had to learn and experience the consequences of being late. While it was so hard to do, it was the tough love he needed. He has never been late since.
#3 – Learn to Disagree and Debate
Students need to be around people who don’t think like they do. Why? Because the world is diverse.
In the real world, Bubs will have co-workers of many backgrounds, religions, and beliefs. While college will provide opportunities to strengthen his interpersonal skills, it is much easier for children to learn this earlier.
The professor specifically stated that Human Resources Departments are telling colleges to provide more opportunity for students to work with others. Collaborative work allows young adults to discover how to move forward even in disagreement.
In our family this started with our children having respectful conversations with us. Our children are welcome to disagree with us and discuss their concerns with a respectful, calm tone. However, at the end of these conversations they must still respect our decisions.
Attending school has provided other opportunities for our children to learn what it means to love others with whom they hold opposing views. Balancing truth and love is a life-long process. In their classrooms, our children are figuring out how to love their neighbor while standing on the truth of God’s Word.
#4 – Learn to Forgive
Learning to forgive and asking forgiveness is another point that the professor focused on throughout his introduction. We are all sinners, and we have to give grace while having the humility to accept our mistakes.
I believe children best learn this when it is modeled in their homes. Humility isn’t a strong suit of mine. But God commands it and I want my children to see it lived out, so it is important that I obey the Holy Spirit’s nudges to accept responsibility for my mistakes and make sure bitterness does not take root when I have been wronged.
#5 – Learn to Make Disciples
Last, but certainly not least, the professor made the distinction between growing children who know the Bible and those who are disciples. He doesn’t want his students to strictly know the Bible; he wants Engineering students to take the truth of God’s Word into their first, second, third…jobs.
This point has caused me to ask the question, “How am I coming alongside my children to transfer their head knowledge into something that they live and share?”
First, this begins by teaching our kids who God is, what God does, who they are, and what God wants them to do – the Gospel message. We did this through reading our favorite children’s Bibles to them and teaching them the Bible through fun curriculum.
Second, not to be a broken record, but modeling is the best way that children will do this. Children must see a Christian life modeled to understand what discipleship looks like.
In our family this looks like each of us serving at church and then finding ways to serve as a family. It is also our children seeing my husband and I in our quiet times with God. They see that church and fellowshipping with other believers is important. It’s not just something we talk about, it’s something we make time for on our calendars. And they see how we disciple and love those we work with, our neighbors, and the strangers God put in our paths.
I love this list as it forces me to think beyond the mentality of parenting just to raise “good” kids, who say, “Thank you” and share with others. This type of biblical parenting makes all the difference in the world.