Preparation for Kids’ higher education and Purpose in Life

I am writing this post on behalf of all parents who wants their kids to come up in life and to “adjust” themselves with the present society for what it is now.

This is only from my personal experiences and viewpoints and since everyone has their own hard and fast rules based on their own position/status in society, culture, occupation etc. there are likely to be variations in approach.

I sincerely respect it and so you could take this post ONLY as a guideline according to the situation you are in and I strongly request you to customize it according to the needs and current abilities of your kid(s).

I have my first kid who is about 16.5 years and currently in the first year at the senior secondary and I would say he is quite intelligent (I could say this because he recently got more than 80% in 10th (Secondary level) examinations that enabled him to secure the first group (PCMC – Physics, Maths, Chemistry, Computer Science in a reputed school).

But of late, we could notice lot of distractions, change in attitude, treatment of people in general (rebel) etc. probably due to the effects of the “teenage syndrome.”

Our thoughts were further accentuated when this was confirmed by all the teachers from his school who take his subjects during our scheduled meetings with them.

We were thinking hard as to what we could do to help him since we know his present nature is not inborn but is acquired due to peer groups, change in physical and mental composition due to the bodily changes that he is undergoing in this stage of his life etc.

He did realise things are going out of control for reasons unknown to him but couldn’t control it and so we decided to enable him to chalk out his own approach by asking to answer these 5 basic questions honestly and to the best of his abilities:

  1. Prepare your own timetable that you want to follow in your weekdays.
  2. Prepare another timetable that you want to follow in your weekends/holidays.
  3. What are your strengths / strong points?
  4. What are your weak points?
  5. What will be your steps to counteract your weak points?

We were really glad that he took up this exercise quite seriously and were really happy with the answers that he had to come up:

Weekly Schedule Weekends/Holiday Schedule Summary
Time Activity Time Activity Weekdays
05:00 Wake up from bed 06:00 Wake up from bed Sleep – 6.5 hrs
05:15 Morning studies 06:30 Bath + Morning Prayers School – 8.5 hrs
6.15 Bath + Morning Prayers 07:30 Breakfast Study – 5 hrs
07:00 Breakfast 08:00 Morning studies Play – 1.25 hrs
07:15 Start to School 10:00 Play Others – 2.75 hrs
15:45 Back from School 11:30 Lunch + Leisure  
16:00 Homework 12:30 Afternoon Studies  
17:00 Evening Prayers 14:00 Leisure  
17:30 Play 15:00 Evening Study Weekends
18:45 Rest 17:00 Evening Prayers Sleep – 7 hrs
19:00 Evening Study 17:30 Play Study – 9 hrs
20:30 Dinner 19:00 Leisure Play – 3 hrs
21:00 Night study 19:30 Evening Study Others – 5 hrs
22:30 Hit the bed 20:30 Dinner  
    21:00 Night Study  
    23:00 Hit the bed  
         
What are your strengths/strong points?
Getting marks without studying? VR>How much marks? Is it enough? Are you satisfied?
Reading on mobile without straining eyes. VR>Causes long term damage.
Understands everything once told. VR>I was told you get easily distracted and so you need to be told the same thing 3 or 4 times to get to you ☹
What are your weak points?
Getting easily distracted.
Disrespectful towards elders.
Lazy.
Not on time.
Arrogant.
What will be your steps to counteract your weak points?
Distractions – doing morning and evening prayers properly for gaining concentration and focus.
Disrespectful towards elders – Listening before speaking, counting 1 to 10 before reacting.
Lazy – Develop will power, Adhering to the timetable properly.
Not on time – Adhering to the timetable properly.
Arrogant – Respecting elders.

I prescribed the following guidelines based on his answers:

Steps for Learning

  • You have prepared your schedule based on your thoughts and your capabilities. So, it is your conscious duty to adhere to it at any cost for your benefit. No one will remind you to follow your schedule from now on…
  • Make sure you involve your activities with full focus on whatever activities that you have specified as per your schedule and not to undertake or deviate yourself in any other activity other than the specified activity during that period.
  • Make sure you go through your prescribed textbooks first, then your class notes thoroughly. If things are too concise or difficult to understand, note that particular sub-chapter/sub-heading in your notebook, refer to the supplementary textbooks. Note down the name of that book and the corresponding chapters n page numbers and link it to the corresponding chapter/sub-chapter/section in your prescribed textbook.
  • Prepare notes and critical points as you study from these textbooks/notes and not leave everything to the brain/mind to remember the subjects by casual reading. Make sure you spend minimum of the last 5-10 minutes of your study schedule to revise what you have learnt during that session.
  • Khan Academy/Any other Online material etc. will be allowed only after if you read these text books, class notes and the corresponding supplementary books and show us that you have a good knowledge and understanding of the subjects. You may use online learning ONLY for reference and reinforcement purposes and not for actual study without reading your text books/note books/supplementary books first.
  • You are to consciously track your hours spent on each activity according to what is mentioned as per your schedule and the actual time spent in your notebook on day to day basis to keep track of deviations and to make remedial measures. This is a MUST activity before going to bed at night every day.

Other General Guidelines:

  1. Talk only when you are asked or required to talk. Do not interfere when others are talking that do not have any direct impact on you. Do not raise your voice too much when you talk.
  2. Amma (Your mother) is making sure you are getting proper, nutritious and tasty food all the time. So, you do not have to give too much importance to keep on asking what you want for now. We know what to give you, what you want and when you want.
  3. Stop arguing with senior people, particularly with your parents. This is for your good only!
  4. You are to be an example for people around you (mainly your younger brothers and sister). So, you have to be that way so that they will not think of you negative any time.
  5. Spend enough time to read books and watch videos that give positive influence and inspires.

I am sure you can incorporate all these things in your daily schedule, since the guidelines are not that strenuous to follow if you bring it into your habit and think that is for your well-being only!

All the best!!!

P.S: As parents, we can do only as much as that is based on the best of our capabilities, situation and resources according to our predicaments etc. When we can’t expect what is in store for us even for our own future, it would be futile to impose our expectations on our kids. Nature chalks out its own course for everyone and as parents, we can only be facilitators to bring our kid(s) up with some values that they would imbibe in life so they could utilize it to carve out a path for themselves, for better or for worse! And that depends on how we live our own lives…

Author: Rajini

"Knowledge is the ultimate perfection of self-realization.". (Srimad Bhagavatham 3.26.2) Trying to seek that knowledge through life experiences that leads to compassion, dispassion and ultimately satisfaction.

7 thoughts on “Preparation for Kids’ higher education and Purpose in Life”

  1. I’m going to provide here one perspective. It comes from a lot of education (growing up, at a university, and through my own research). Also, I taught for many years, adjusting along the way, but always holding true to the basics, creative lessons, and getting the students to think for themselves.
    While growing up, we need our parents to guide us, more so by being responsible examples and providing the family experience, if we seek to verbalize what is natural. And we need those day to day events, chores, discussions, fight among siblings, friends, sleepovers, and more.
    But there’s something else. Real life. We come into the world natural. But we also come into the world surrounded by the culture and beliefs. If that culture and belief system is healthy, allowing kids to be kids, and parents to raise their children by understanding and simplicity, our young ones feel safe, take on adventures, but always remain true to what they know inside, though they may need direction and experience the school of hard knocks. This second is necessary, for without falling, struggles, bullies, and such, we don’t know how to deal with the difficulties of life.
    Education is a tool, like anything else. But it’s how we learn. As a teacher, I wanted the students to have their basics to mastery, but I didn’t want them to be intellectual. I wanted them to be real. I wanted them to talk from understanding, day to day life, and from real experiences, not cogitate on the abstract and ideas that simply flutter into our minds from television and gaming and youtube.
    Let’s try this another way, for I’m not quite putting it as I understand.
    A good friend of mine has a fantastic grand-daughter (He shared this story years back.). She was a happy-go-lucky child, going to a private school I believe, and enjoyed her friends and hobbies. She liked drawing and such. At some point, someone (I don’t remember who.) told her what wonderful artwork she was doing. This made her happy. However, for some reason, she started feeling the compulsion to keep making the art, improving, but the fun had gone out of it. Why? Before, she never thought about it. She liked drawing. It was natural. She liked making pictures and other art things. But when too much attention was drawn to her work, it changed the entire dynamic. She could no longer just enjoy. My friend explained, had he not intervened and got her off worrying about being a great artists, she might have done something terrible to herself as she grew older. He asked her to quit the artwork for some time, then come back to it when natural interest motivated her again. But this time, do it because it’s fun.
    You see, we have a real self. That real-self lives by understanding, but not understanding that comes from others, but understanding that is revealed within, day to day, without thinking about it. Just living. You see your room needs cleaning, so you pick up the clothes, put your toys away, and maybe sweep up. You need money, so you get a job, or baby-sit, or mow lawns, or create jewelry, or whatever. You live as you see. It’s natural.
    The desire for a higher education is often outwardly directed. We see others going to college. We hear that college opens doors. We see society supports a university degree. And like that young lady, we feel the “pressure” to get that higher education. The world approves. Of course, some rebel, but often to serious detriment. It can feel like being stuck between a rock and a hard place. You aren’t inwardly motivated to sit in classes, garner grades, get the degree, then find a job that you’re prepared for. But if you don’t, you feel the “sting” of not going to a university, not getting that higher education, not getting the house and two cars and 2.5 children.
    Make no mistake. I think learning is important. I believe the basics are paramount. I believe responsibility is a very important aspect of life. We all have to grow up. We all have to work. It’s part of life. I went to college for the degree, but also to take some classes I thought were good for me, but I also engaged jobs of interest, took on hobbies, and discovered the ease of learning without thinking that you’re learning.
    As a teacher, while providing lessons and projects, we have discussions from time to time, usually on a Friday, after the week’s work has been accomplished. Let’s talk careers. Let’s talk about what you like to do. Let’s talk conflict resolution. Some kids mow lawns. Some kids help out at family businesses. But I ask them, what you like to do, if you like anything. And I provide many examples of personal and other people’s experiences.
    The point here is not to create pressure. It’s to see what they are interested in. Remove “ideas” that work against their inner knowing. We talked “Shark Tank.” We talk summer camps. We talk baby-sitting. What do you already do that is fun, which might one day turn into a career? One student liked cooking, which was obvious. I suggested to his family to allow him to cook meals for them. He liked the idea. Who knows? If he thoroughly enjoys the process, perhaps one day he might venture into opening up a restaurant, working for one of the top establishments, open a catering company, or who knows. He might even work in another field, cooking great meals at home. Another girl, after being in my class, had a great business idea. I suggested she continue the research, work for someone in the field so she can learn hands-on, then perhaps open up her own business, but that she would have to be prepared to work 20 hour days. She actually loved the idea. It was in her. But I always explain, you’re not doing this for me. I don’t care what you do. You do have to be responsible: we all do. But whatever you find, you’re doing it because it’s your idea. I won’t applaud you (I’ll do this inwardly.). I probably will forget you were ever in my class (I won’t.). But I prefer their motivation to be inward.
    I’ve had students come back enthusiastically, telling me of what they are now doing as adults. They see I’m happy for them. But because they found their own road. Some have families. Some are career only at present. But whatever, it’s their self-discovery. They’re intrinsically motivated.
    I’ve explained to them, that a university is one way. There are many roads. They get to choose, but choices also come with success and consequences, but they get to live their lives. If they fall, they have to pick themselves up again. They can learn as they go.
    For myself, most of my learning was outside the university (I would say at least 90% outside.). Work. Hobbies. Interests. Research when I was curious. Learning things so I had more for the students. And much more. I followed interests. Fixing my cars. Read the manuals. Go to the junk yard. Mistakes? Learn and fix.
    But people who’ve found their identities in being intellectuals often don’t realize they don’t know who they are. They think they know. But they don’t realize the reasons they went down their road. They don’t know how to be themselves. They need to surround themselves with others who “appreciate” the dialogue of intelligence, but it’s not a dialogue of real interest, but to “seem” intelligent and be respected. I suppose, for some people, that is who they think they are. For others, it becomes a terrible “fix.” They feel a pressure to continue a charade, to keep up “the act,” to be admired, all the while needing those drinks at the end of the day, wondering why they can never relax or be themselves. And the fear to start all over, to give up the façade, giving up the respect. Well, that can lead to all types of calamities. However, it can also be the start of really living. Be brave. Be willing to give up the attention. Start over. Even in older days. I’ve seen those who have done so. It’s like a breath of fresh air. All their lives, and they were responsible, but feeling like they had to be something they weren’t. Some find second or third careers. KFC anyone?

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