October 29, 2010

Learning a Foreign Language (or Two)

Our 19-year-old wants to be a police officer and was recently told by our local police that the way to move to the top of the new hires list is to be able to speak Spanish.

Many employers now look for bilingual employees, and Spanish isn't the only language they seek. Chinese is becoming increasingly important in the new economy, and other languages are also considered an asset. In a world where employment is not always easy to come by, our children will need the advantage of knowing a foreign language.

Young children pick up foreign languages quickly. Why not let them learn another language with some of the great products now available?

October 27, 2010

Our Children Will Need to Be Good Communicators

It's vital that our children grow up learning how to communicate effectively through writing. In an era of texting and chatspeak, this isn't always easy to manage.

But employers will always value workers who can get across a point clearly and concisely. It's an advantage for the self-employed, too, because being able to write your own website copy and do it well is a real money-saver.

Schoolchildren aren't always taught to write well. But we parents can make sure our children learn this important skill. This report (PDF), while written for homeschooling parents, offers plenty of tips and ideas for all parents who want their children to become good writers.

October 25, 2010

The Truth About Unemployment

According to government statistics and recent polling, the U.S. unemployment rate currently hovers at around 10%.

But economist John Williams includes both the short-term and long-term discouraged workers in his statistics, and estimates the current unemployment rate to be over 20%. Who's right? It doesn't matter; 20%+ is awful, but 10% is nothing to brag about.

Many pundits tell us this is "the new normal." If they're right, we'd better get started teaching our kids how to stretch a buck so that they can get through bouts of unemployment without going hungry.

October 22, 2010

Americans are Catching On

More and more people are realizing that the economy of the 21st century isn't going to get better any time soon. This is why we need to prepare our children carefully for the future: preparing them the way we were prepared makes no sense, because getting a college degree is no longer a guarantee of anything except a big expense.

It's not that none of our children will need to go to college. But all of our children will need to develop the specific strengths that will get them ready to thrive in the 21st century.

October 20, 2010

Kids and Internet Safety

Our kids will need to be computer-literate and Internet-savvy by the time they reach adulthood. Many of today's kids are skilled at texting and using Facebook, but those things take up time that could be better used learning to safely surf the Internet.

Of course, parents are concerned (with good reason) about their children's safety when using the Internet. Here's a guide from the FBI about keeping your kids safe on the Internet that you may find useful.

October 18, 2010

Raising Entrepreneurial Teens

A recent survey by Junior Achievement found that there are two deciding factors in teens wanting their own business(es): their environment and having strong entrepreneurial role models.

While participating in groups like JA will help our teens develop the entrepreneurial mindset, we parents can have the greatest effect by encouraging our young people to try starting small businesses, and even by starting our own businesses so they can witness it firsthand.

Having your own business, even a side business, can help you through hard times caused by low-paying jobs or worse, unemployment. Giving our kids a head-start on thinking entrepreneurially can only help them in the 21st century economy.

October 15, 2010

Even on Wall Street....

....salaries are shrinking. Learning to stretch a dollar is going to become a very popular pastime. Will your kids know how to live simply and stretch a buck?

October 13, 2010

At Least Somebody's Teaching Kids These Skills

Over in England, a chain of hardware stores has begun offering classes to teach children basic survival skills, since their parents either don't have the time or the ability to do so. 

Glad to hear that some young people are going to learn these skills. Wonder when they'll start teaching basic skills on this side of the pond?

October 11, 2010

How Did This Happen?

You may wonder how our economy got to the point where it is now. I think Charles Hugh Smith summarizes it pretty well.

The middle class filled the growing gap between stagnant earnings and steep increases in living costs, healthcare (a.k.a. sickcare), education, and housing with a second income (Mom, aunty, sister and Grandma all entered the workforce en masse) during the 1970s, and then they filled the still-widening gap in the 80s, 90s and 2000s with ever-expanding debt.

The dot-com bubble provided the illusion that permanently rising equities would painlessly fill the gap (pension plans were happy to join in the mass delusion). When that fantasy imploded, it was quickly replaced with the exact same fantasy, only this time based on housing.

Hence our current economic troubles. The bottom line? Our children's future will be much different from the world we've been accustomed to for the past 30 years. It will be harder for many people to earn money. Our kids are going to need a variety of skills, not just a sheepskin.

October 8, 2010

Modern Day Debt Slaves

This dad was so convinced that his children had to go to college that he co-signed student loans for ALL FOUR of them.....yikes! He and his wife lost their jobs, they've lost their home to foreclosure and are about to become homeless, and they can't shake off the tremendous student loan debt (one loan is for $108,000) through bankruptcy.

Proposed legislation may help them out by making student loans dischargeable in bankruptcy, but the lesson here is clear: don't get into student loan debt unless you're sure it will result in employment that pays so well you can repay the loans and still have money to live on. Not too many careers fall into that category these days.

October 6, 2010

Incomes Headed Down

New demographic data shows that U.S. median income dropped nearly 3% from 2008 to 2009. Given the rise in unemployment since then, it's likely that the 2009-2010 change will be at least the same and maybe higher.

Incomes are headed down. Finding any job, much less a higher-paying one, is not easy these days. It's a helpless feeling, but we're not helpless. We do have the power to manage our money wisely and stretch every dollar we earn.

We must also teach our children to do the same. It's their best bet for surviving economic difficulties in their lives someday.

October 4, 2010

"A Generation of Nincompoops": Something Easily Avoided

The woman quoted in this article has a teenage daughter who doesn't know how to use a can opener, so Mom's written a book about reducing her children's reliance on technology. I guess she thinks they were too busy texting to learn how to make a can of soup for dinner.

I'm kind of surprised she admits that she fell down on the job when it came to teaching very basic skills to her children. It's really not that hard. But it does require a parent to value basic skills enough to teach them to their children. Maybe she should read Back to Basics!