Parents often ask me when is too early to prepare for college. I say from the time they come out of the womb is when you should start.
Some studies show that kids who receive more verbal interactions from 0-5 enter Kindergarten more prepared linguistically than students who are not exposed to verbose environments. Language rich surroundings encourage students to be more outgoing and adaptable to learning settings, which prepare them for the future. I always suggest kids attend a high quality preschool from age 2 and beyond for many reasons. Obviously, preschool supports social and emotional learning, but also for early language development and academic skill attainment. Beyond preschool, in primary and elementary grade levels parents can ensure their children receive high quality attention to their needs by remediating their deficits and enriching their strengths.
Once students reach middle school, it’s time to get serious even though this is a developmentally challenging time for most students and the parents who interact with them. For middle-school students, I recommend the following three simple things:
1. Focus on developing regular study routines and habits: Students who develop solid skills to studying regularly in middle school will have an easier time getting into the swing of things once high school arrives.
2. Establish 1-2 regular extra-curricular activities that interest the student: By the end of elementary school, your student may decide that he or she is ready to focus on 1-2 major activities. This is the time to also finalize the exploration phase of activities. By the time high school comes, you want to ensure your student has made a decision and sticks with less activities at a more consistent pace.
3. Start to identify career interests: This is a great time for students to shadow professional work settings and begin volunteering in an office of place of business so they can experience what it may entail. The student will either enjoy the career he or she experiences or decide that it may not be for them after all. Either way, having the job shadowing experience is highly beneficial.
All students are different and are interested in different things. The best advice I can give to parents or guardians about preparing for college is to follow the child, a common sentiment of the Montessori education method. By following the child and helping them to explore and have access to the things in which they are interested, you can ensure that he or she will have the opportunity to thrive in an area near and dear to their hearts.