Raising smart kids is an intensely personal undertaking. A child’s very first connection to the world is through their parents. If this relationship is positive, they will have a positive view of the world. If the relationship with the child is not positive they will view the world as a negative place. This difference in viewpoints will have a profound effect on a child’s emotional security which will ultimately affect their intellectual development, interpersonal relationships, and their success as a productive adult.

Parents are also their children’s first teachers, with control over every facet of an infant’s life through virtually all of their first five years. There are no guarantees that doing everything ‘right’ will create perfect kids. There are too many unknowns in life to assume that. But I can guarantee that when young children are neglected or abused, and/or don’t get what they need over time, it tips the balance; and research has shown that those children will very likely have less academic success and more behavior and social/emotional problems that cause issues at home, at school and in the workplace.

Success is, first of all, a personal responsibility. It’s up to you and your children to fulfil your responsibilities along with expecting others to fulfil theirs. It’s not about money, although having money certainly makes it easier in some ways. It’s also not about test scores or IQ, or having small classes all the time, or the best teachers in every subject. It’s not even about going to the ‘best’ schools. It’s about how you as a parent relate to and nurture your children, and about how your children learn and grow at each critical step along the way. It’s about personal responsibility; yours and theirs.

Beginning with kindergarten, Jason is in school for 13 years before going off to work or college. If he’s in a preschool, that’s 15 years. In those 15 years Jason will have dozens of teachers in very different types of classrooms, large classes and small ones, fun classes and those not-so-fun, and excellent teachers along with mediocre and even poor teachers. No way around it, none of your children will have the ‘perfect’ school or classroom all the time. And I say that’s OK, because if Jason always has everything go his way, he never learns to deal with obstacles and imperfections in himself and others, critical skills for success. 

Kids learn what they live, and we all learn by dealing with all kinds of situations. Physically, our bodies develop antibodies to combat various substances in the air; and we know that children who are never exposed to dust or mild toxins tend to develop more allergies than children who’ve had mild exposures over time.

In the same way, we develop social skills by interacting with people in different situations, both positive and negative; but if we’re never exposed to situations that require new skills, then we never learn those new skills. We learn coping skills by dealing with less-than-perfect people and situations.