Carolyn Johnston, Co-Author of “Power Spending: Getting More For Less,” contributed the following post:

Growing up in a bilingual country, French was a mandatory subject in public school. Although I was only required to take it during my first year of high school, I enjoyed learning French and decided to continue studying it throughout high school. In Grade 10, I started to study German as well. This led to an opportunity to participate in a student exchange to Germany during Grade 12 and then 9 months working in France after graduating. I continued my language studies at college, even dabbling in Spanish and Japanese for a while. I enjoyed it, it was interesting, and I got good marks. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Unfortunately, I had no desire to teach and didn’t have the skill to translate. I never used my degree and ended up working in financial services. It was kind of unfortunate-not that I think my education was a waste of money, but I think my education dollars could have been better “spent.” I felt that some guidance from teachers, counselors, and my parents could have helped me to make better choices in my studies.

With my own experience in mind, I was determined to be more involved in my children’s education than my parents had been in mine. I helped them with their homework, attended parent-teacher interviews, and scheduled annual visits with their guidance counselor in high school. I wanted to make sure that they were on the right track and be prepared to get into the college program of their choice.

I had careers picked out for each child and had their educational paths all mapped out in my mind. However, things didn’t actually work out as I planned-the kids had their own ideas.? That’s okay. That’s the point. You can guide your children, give them support, and help them along the way, but ultimately, your children will make their own choices.

I do have some suggestions. However, that will make it a little easier for your children to find their way in the world:

  • Get involved in your children’s education
  • Encourage children to apply themselves in their studies
  • Advise them to explore career possibilities by taking a variety of courses in high school
  • Take advantage of the resources available to parents and students
  • Help them to research careers online
  • Find opportunities for children to talk with friends and family members about their jobs
  • Encourage summer and part-time jobs that can give children valuable work experience
  • Encourage your children to get involved in co-op education opportunities so they can “try out” a particular career
  • An apprenticeship program will allow your child to get a head start on a career while attending high school
  • Take them to tour college campuses and attend open houses

Remember, one of a parent’s most important responsibilities is to help their children become independent adults. Education is a vital part of that preparation. Parents should give their children roots and then encourage them to use their wings.

P.S. We devoted an entire chapter of the book “Power Spending: Getting More for Less” to teaching children, including a section on education.

What ways have you found to help your children prepare for their future employment?