June 27, 2011

Is College a Scam?

The media has been slowly drawing attention to the problems with our system of colleges and universities, and the question of whether students are being educated or scammed. Here's a video from the National Inflation Association that does a good job of spelling out just what's going on in both higher education and our government. You might not agree with all of it but it will give you a lot of food for thought.

June 20, 2011

Thriving Through Mastery

I'm not crazy about the title of this wonderful article by Gary North, "Time to Get Rich." I think it misleads the reader into thinking it's another of those smarmy get-rich-quick articles, and it's nothing like that. In fact, it explains the opposite: how young people can invest time in mastering certain skills so that they benefit throughout their lives.  It's certainly worth your time if you're a parent who's concerned about raising children who will thrive in the new economy!

June 13, 2011

Can Your Kids Communicate?

No, it’s not what you think. I’m sure your kids can talk, chatter, question, and occasionally demand (mine sure could!)…..the question is, can your kids communicate calmly and clearly so that they can be understood? So that they don’t come across as rude or demanding? So that they can get along with people and even defend their faith?

How about email? Can they write emails that will make sense, come across politely and not make them look bad? Many employers say most of their recent-college-grad employees have difficulty communicating properly. How can you teach your children to be the exceptions to that rule?

Learn more about effective communication for the 21st century in a podcast I recently recorded with JoJo Tabares of Art of Eloquence. JoJo is a whiz at explaining how to raise children who communicate well, and why it’s so important that you do so.

June 10, 2011

Has Outsourcing Come Full Circle?

A recent study found that Indian companies have begun outsourcing call center work to another country: the U.S.

Apparently our high unemployment rate has resulted in a large pool of workers willing to work in call centers for $10-12 an hour, and India's dramatic growth has made hiring cheap overseas labor a necessity.

I think we'll see more of this as wages around the globe fall into alignment in the global economy.

June 7, 2011

Jobs Do Not Equal Security

The U.S. job market continues to flounder; when we do have growth, it's very weak. While this article suggests that the Japanese tsunami and earthquake may be partly to blame, the fact is that this is an ongoing weakness and the hallmark of a shaky economy.

No one is predicting that this problem will be solved anytime soon. Some believe it's a systemic problem with no easy answers. So our children will likely enter adulthood in an economy where the phrase "job security" is an oxymoron.

What can we do? We can raise entrepreneurial children who understand how to develop a side income, and help them become financially savvy so that they know how to stretch the dollars they earn. I cover those subjects in great depth in Thriving in the 21st Century: Preparing Our Children for the New Economic Reality.

June 5, 2011

A Winning Combination: Children, Computers and Time

(excerpted from Thriving in the 21st Century: Preparing Our Children for the New Economic Reality)

Ultimately, schools have enough on their plates teaching children the three R’s; adding a requirement for insuring that children become computer-literate can often overwhelm even the best schools. So if children don’t learn to use computers in school, where can they learn this vital skill?

My experience has been that children are very capable of teaching themselves to use a computer at home. We bought our first computer when our older children were 11 and 9. My husband used it each evening after work, learning the design software that would eventually allow him to start his own business. That’s why our children were only allowed on the computer during the day. I quickly learned that they would stay on there all day if I let them, so we established the 45-minutes-per-day rule, enforced by a kitchen timer on top of the monitor.

Before long, our older children had taught themselves all about how to use the computer. Once we began accessing the Internet, they designed their own Web sites. They soon needed more computer time than they were allowed, so each saved up and bought their own computer. Our daughter started a Web zine about music, attracting a following of kids who shared her interest. Our son ran a Web site about his favorite major league baseball player; his site was later written up in Baseball Weekly. They achieved this level of proficiency after only a few years of using the computer, and each was entirely self-taught. (They later took a few online courses to hone their computer skills.)

They (and, a few years later, their younger sister) quickly became more proficient in computer basics than I have yet to become after many years of computer use. Our fourth child, who has developmental disabilities, is not as computer-literate as the others were at his age (that is partly due to his limited reading ability), but he can find and start different educational games on our computer without assistance. My point here is that all four were given access to a basic computer and the time to experiment with it. Based on their success, I believe it’s up to parents and the kids themselves, not the schools, to produce computer-literate children. Parents should provide the computer and the time. Given that opportunity, the children will take over from there.

One reason children pick up the computer so quickly is that they’re more willing to explore the computer and press keys without worrying that they’ll mess up something. We adults are often hampered by that fear, so it may take us longer to learn how to use a computer. While we sit flipping through a tutorial book plotting our next move, they’ve already clicked back and forth between screens and figured out what to do (and what not to do).

Of course, they do make mistakes in the process, and sometimes lose information they had painstakingly put in there. But once they become more proficient than their parents, they realize that it’s up to them to solve the problem, and they learn to do so.

I think the fact that I couldn’t come running to my children’s rescue each time the computer “ate” something important forced them to figure things out for themselves; they learned pretty early on that I wasn’t going to be much help, no matter how good my intentions. They became fearless when it came to using the computer, which helped them become computer troubleshooters for the rest of the family.

June 1, 2011

Gardening is an Essential Skill for the Future

If you're a gardener, by now your seedlings are likely in the ground and poised for growth. Did you include your children when you planted your seedlings? Teaching children how to garden is excellent preparation for adulthood in the new economy. Knowing how to grow and preserve your own food is a very valuable skill for people who are between jobs and limited on funds.

An added incentive is that many of our food sources are now questionable. We can't control how food is grown in other countries. Produce is often coated with chemicals and/or irradiated to prepare it for long-distance shipping. And in extreme cases like the current situation in Europe, imported food can kill you.

Growing your own food eliminates all those risks. Kids love to garden; why not teach yours how to do so?