My parents taught me many skills in life to prepare me and keep me on the right path. As the youngest of seven, I had the advantage of observing trial an error by my older siblings. By the time I came around, my parents had fine tuned their parenting skills. Among the most important skills I learned from them were responsibility, hard work and dedication/discipline. My parents did not believe in handing out money simply on demand. I had an allowance that I earned, was always told ways in which I could earn extra money around the house and I had my first job at thirteen. As a family, we had weekly responsibilities within the house that were to be completed on time or evening/weekend activities were forfeited. There was no whining or questioning, we knew the rules and simply obeyed or disobeyed and paid the consequences that were enforced on a consistent basis.
More importantly, from that responsibility, hard work and dedication came a sense of “independence” which I feel was the glue that truly helped me (and my siblings) succeed in college. I could balance my check book, change a flat tire, get the most bang for my buck at the grocery store, think quickly on my feet and maintained an emergency fund all before freshman year of college. All thanks to my parents. That way the only unknown factor that I really needed to adjust to was the level of work expected of a new college student. I watched many students and friends crumble around me because they couldn’t manage their time, money, relationships, and the daily pressures of day-to-day college living. I truly think teaching children to be independent by way of responsibility, hard work and dedication/discipline is part of that check-list of life skills necessary for a successful transition to college.
Why do I think fourth grade is beautiful? Because this is the place and time in a child‘s life when they are innocent enough to still try anything. They believe they can run faster than lightning. They believe they are strong as an ox. They are willing to take on most challenges and have no concept of failure. They see themselves as invincible. Within that naïveté there is simplicity that is pure and good. They still have dreams of being astronauts, doctors and firemen. They listen to their parents (for the most part) and believe mom and dad are the smartest people in the world. But the best part about this age group is that they still firmly believe in themselves. They are confident and strong and they believe that they can be anything they want to be as long as they work hard because that’s what their teachers and parents have told them. Fourth grade is the tipping point for confidence building that sticks. Factors such as friends, teachers, and family all play a critical role at this point in a child’s life. Just like the “School House Rock” song says; [age] 10 IS the magic number. After this age, peer pressure comes into play. Some resist because of the confidence they built and tools they have gained from strong family, teachers and coaches, while others unfortunately fall victim.
Note: The ages of 7 to 13 are critical for positive growth and confidence building. These elementary school years are at the core for building self-confidence. Age 7 is where we start to see children grapple with confidence, and parents need to pay close attention by encouraging and reaffirming their child in most activities. Age 10 is where things can either go very right or very wrong in your child’s development.