I had the privilege of appearing on The Family Podcast Network with Trey Gibson. Trey did an outstanding job conducting the interview, and I think we got into some really important topics. Enjoy the interview (and get to hear what I sound like in cyberspace) by listening in at Trey’s site on the link titled “Paul McGuire on Is College Really That Important.“ Special thanks to Trey for having me on; listen in on his other podcasts as he shares many of the same philosophies that you’ll find here. Enjoy!
It’s that time of year – when parents, grandparents, and even Santa scurry frantically to get that right gift into the hands of every girl and boy. In a time when we’re inundated and overwhelmed with toys and gadgets that are entertainment devices in their own right, it is tough to decide what’s best for your child. It can be tempting to equip them with a cell phone or laptop, tablet or video game, or software and access to all that the internet has to offer. But what things can you give them that will bring out the best in your student? In this two-post series we’ll look at ideas for the different age groups. Read on for some ideas.
For your preschooler, the age-old standbys are still perfect for their developmental stage. Blocks, picture books, big Legos and Lincoln Logs, character dolls, Tonka trucks, arts and crafts supplies, board and card games like Memory and Go Fish, and so on will feed their brains all that they need. Creative and imaginative play are super-important for proper development, which many of these toys assist with. Blocks and picture books will help them develop their vocabulary and reading skills. Games develop strategy, memory, and counting and number skills. Notice that none of these suggestions take batteries, plug into the wall or the TV, or require you to download anything. We don’t need to make them into little computer geniuses at this young age. And they’re all easy on the wallet but require an investment in time from the parents to maximize their enjoyment.
Elementary school children can also benefit from non-technical gifts. You could buy a nice desk and chair for them to do their homework on. Books appropriate to their interests and age can be a hit. Again, more arts and crafts supplies if they appear to be bent in that direction. If they enjoy doing homework-like activities, then a math, spelling, reading or activity book that is age-appropriate would be good. Get them outside – bikes, playsets, trampolines, basketball goals are all fun and create opportunities to engage in physical activity. And honestly, if they must have video games please adhere to the ratings on the games. Your elementary school child doesn’t need to play Halo, Call of Duty, or some other teen or mature-reated game.
On those lines, the temptation may be there to buy toys and games that are recommended for older age groups because you think your child is more advanced. Please resist that temptation. Number one is the issue of safety, and younger kids can get seriously hurt with some of these toys. Secondly, a toy or game that is too advanced will only frustrate your child. Finally, from a selfish perspective it gives you more things to introduce to your child as they get older; if you buy the advanced toys now then you can’t buy them later.
In short, you can support their development and growth through these gift ideas without breaking the bank. There are many other ideas you may have, but try to resist buying an “electronic babysitter” for this age group. Next time we will look at ideas for middle and high school students.
When our children enter this world, they are like an unblemished canvas, a raw piece of granite, putty to be molded and shaped. Their universe and all that they experience is largely driven by their parents. Whatever their age, if they are still at home then you still have the opportunity to influence them in only the way that you can.
Perhaps the biggest mistake that we as parents make is generally made with the best intentions. That mistake is the one where we push and influence them to live the life that we’ve come to know. In other words, instead of letting them become the people that God intended them to be, we make them in to little versions of ourselves. We teach them what they should do based on what we know – stay in school, go to college, get a good job with insurance and benefits, follow the rules, and do what’s expected of them. School already does a number on them by teaching them to follow rules, to color within the lines, to perform to the requirements of the test, and to play nice with others.
Is it possible to raise them differently? Instead of expecting them to conform, can we celebrate their individuality? One definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over but expecting different results. If we are unfulfilled and unsatisfied in our jobs, but we go back every day and teach our kids that it’s the responsible thing to do, are we giving them the best possible advice? We raise them watching out television shows, following our habits, and going to our own church because it is the right thing to do – or so we think.
The Affluent Student is one who is prepared for the rigors of education and the challenges of life. They have learned how to succeed by developing good character traits and behavioral habits. They are open to the possibilities around them, they choose careers and educational programs based on the person that they are and the skills, abilities, talents, dreams and passions that they possess. They know their strengths and look to leverage those wherever possible. They know that they live in the Information Age and that learning never stops. They know that the significance of their life is measured in terms of relationships and influence and not in stacks of wealth. Finally, they know that life is too short to spend it being miserable.
Zig Ziglar often tells the story of his mom’s Christmas ham. For years and years, she cut off the end of her ham before baking it. One year she asked her own mother why she cut off the end of her ham. Her mom replied that she always had and wasn’t really sure why. Fortunately, her own mom was still alive, so Grandma was asked why she cut off the end of her ham. As only a grandmother can, she looked lovingly at her daughter and granddaughter and replied that she cut off her ham simply because it wouldn’t fit in her pan. The moral is that we do an awful lot of things just because that’s what we think we’re supposed to do, and we just never question why. As parents, we must be willing to let our own child experience life on their own terms, but with our kindness and experience to gently guide them and answer questions that they have along the way. Proverbs 22:6, from the original Hebrew, tells us to train up a child in the way he is bent, or inclined. It is our obligation to do just that, based on the way they are uniquely made, and it is your most unselfish act of love to them.
The Affluent Student is dedicated to giving parents and kids the tools, knowledge, and information on how to get their college paid for and how to win at life. So many opportunities exist for students to have their college paid for, and so many of those good students struggle to go to college. Parents don’t know how to help their children, and guidance counselors are overwhelmed with just trying to graduate their students that they don’t have time to help either.
And, if we leave it to the kids, well, preparing for college just isn’t top of mind for most of them, let alone figuring out how to pay for it. Most assume they can get in and Mom and Dad will pay for it. Parents may have the best intentions, but even today a public education at a good state school can cost upwards of $80,000 for four years. Ill-prepared, kids go off to school hoping for the best.
Many of them drop out of school when the money runs out, and for those that do finish many others walk out with loans than follow them into adulthood. Now more than ever, having a sound financial start is extremely important for ensuring that your children leave the nest once and for all. It’s hard enough to prepare for your own retirement, let alone carry and support children into adulthood because poor decisions were made about funding their college education.
In the Affluent Student, you’ll get tips and hints on how to crack the code when it comes to getting money for school, and no, you don’t have to be a pauper to qualify. My own college was paid for years ago and my parents never contributed a dime. I just helped my oldest son get enough scholarship money so that his first year was paid for in full, so I know how to make it happen. Your child doesn’t need to be an affluent student, but if parents will apply what I share here then they can become an affluent student. Here’s hoping that this journey is a fruitful and productive one for all.
Application Question – Are you ready to do what it takes to help your child become an Affluent Student and win at the game of life?
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