As parents, there seems to be many stages where we find ourselves saying “they grow up so fast…” At each step of independence, we’re reminded how quickly time passes when you’re a parent.
Once kids enter high school, they only have a short few years before they have to make important choices about their future, including what post secondary education and career path they want to pursue. Time goes by so quickly! I think it’s important as parents that we encourage our kids from a young age to start thinking about what the future may hold for them, while encouraging them to keep an open mind and dream big.
I remember the pressure to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up, and trying to decide what university I wanted to apply to. It felt like I needed to pick what I was going to do for the rest of my life, without really understanding what most of the careers available even involved.
While I now realize that there’s a pretty good chance my kids’ post secondary education may not be directly related to the career path they pursue, I do whole heartedly believe in the value of post secondary education.
Here are some things I’m doing to help get my kids thinking about their future school and career plans:
1. Talk about things that they’re interested in and what kinds of jobs relate to those interests.
From what they like about their favourite courses at school, to their hobbies, passions and special skills, there are so many opportunities on a daily basis to get kids thinking about what they’d like to do in the future.
2. Visit college and university campuses.
I take every opportunity to visit college and university campuses with my kids. From walking around the U of T buildings while on a staycation in Toronto, to shopping at the local college bookstore, to visiting my old campus at Queen’s while we were in Kingston for a karate tournament, these experiences give them little glimpses of student life and show them the vast array of learning environments that are available.
3. Encourage them to keep an open mind and research different types of jobs and careers.
Everything from talking to family and friends about their jobs, to taking online personality quizzes about your ideal careers to reading books can help your kids figure out what kinds of careers interest them and help them choose a path to follow.
4. Share stories of my university days.
As my daughter is getting closer to the day where she will be picking a college or university to attend, she is more and more interested in hearing about my university experiences. Conversations ranging from what residence life and cafeteria food were like to part time jobs I had and what courses I loved help her envision what student life might be like.
5. Talk openly about our jobs, past and current.
My husband and I have both had a wide variety of jobs over the years, and I think it’s important for our kids to understand that they too will likely have a range of jobs over their lifetime. Many of the jobs available today didn’t even exist when I was going to school! I know that some of our stories have helped them figure out what kinds of jobs they definitely don’t want.
6. Discuss the financial realities of paying for post secondary education and what plans we have in place.
We all know post secondary education, especially university, is expensive. Since I was working as a financial advisor when our kids were born, I was well aware of the benefits of RESPs and started an RESP account for each of them when they were just babies. I want my children to know that while we may not be able to finance their education fully, we will be able to support their education goals so they can pursue their dreams.
There are some pretty significant advantages of saving for your child’s education with an RESP, and one of the biggest reasons to open an RESP is that the government will give you free money. With the Canada Learning Bond, you may be eligible to receive up to $2000 to start an RESP without having to contribute any money to it. With the Canada Education Savings Grant, the government will match a percentage of your RESP contributions into your child’s RESP account.
If you haven’t yet started an RESP for your kids, it’s not too late.
SmartSAVER is a non-profit community project which helps Canadian families start saving for their children’s education with information on free government money and online access to get the savings started. They provide direct access to financial institutions who offer no-fee RESPs with no minimum contribution.
Visit smartsaver.org for information on how to get started opening an RESP today. (And be sure to enter our giveaway below!)
Courtesy of SmartSAVER.org, Tweenhood is giving away one (1) $50 President’s Choice gift card. Enter below for your chance to win.
Giveaway starts October 3, 2016 and ends October 15, 2016 at 11:00 pm EST. This giveaway is open to Canadian residents 18+ only, excluding Quebec. No purchase necessary. A winner will be chosen at random and notified via email. The winner will be required to answer a skill-testing question and have 48 hours to respond, otherwise another winner will be chosen. Prize fulfillment is the responsibility of the prize sponsor.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by SmartSAVER.org. As always, all opinions remain my own.
About Kathy Sima
Kathy is a blogger and freelance writer and mom of two teens who gave up her career as a financial advisor when her son was diagnosed with autism at age 3. When it comes to parenting, Kathy truly believes there is strength in numbers and knows that sharing stories and strategies with other parents has helped keep her sane (so far!)