The 3 R's in school refer to the foundations of basic skills: Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic. The 3 R's graduate to the 3 E's, which are standards for college and career readiness. What are the 3 E's? Employers! Expectations! Effort!
Northwest Indiana employers, through the Center of Workforce Innovation, created a top 10 list of “Employer Expectations” (see chart). Schools, through the READY NWI initiative, have been embracing these qualities and teaching these skills as a part of College and Career Readiness.
While these qualities are notable in a list for the first two Es, the third element of effort is a difficult concept to teach and have youth embrace. What can parents do to show how effort paves the way for success? Be there and guide them along the way!
Parents, you are such incredible role models and significant people in the lives of your children. Children need your encouragement in every aspect of life. This is their lifeline of hope for a bright future. They need you to believe in them and guide them when the possible seems impossible. They need you to have high expectations and not accept less in terms of their effort.
Some examples in my own life are relevant to illustrate a nurturing parent demonstrating how to engage a child with effort.
My assignment in a high school English class was to interpret a three-line poem. I went on and on about why I was assigned this poem. Why did I get the difficult poem? I was whining and procrastinating. My dad prompted me to give it a try, and he would check back in on me. He followed up to see my progress. I was still moaning about it. Then came the lecture about persevering to succeed in life. I needed to hear this speech! More than once!
My dad was loving and kind and parented with this approach.
My next follow-up from dear old dad led to this incredible conversation on how he interpreted the poem. It was an enlightening talk that gave me a charge to finish the assignment. I was so proud of the accomplishment of turning in what I thought was an incredibly ridiculous assignment. I did it!
It took effort and not giving up to do it. My dad would have never accepted less. It took my parent to keep the expectation of perseverance and encouragement high to keep my effort strong.
Then there was the time I was 16, and my dad said it was time for me to get a job. I came up with every excuse as to why this was not a good idea. “I have college prep classes, extracurricular clubs and no time for anything else. My friends do not have jobs!” is what I preached. My dad said I should pursue a weekend job.
This is when I was rolling my eyes and thinking he had an answer for everything. Yes, rebellion! He took me to McDonald’s to get the application. I was not happy. My dad explained it would be a good experience to learn to work with other people and save money for college.
When I was called for an interview, I was so nervous. It was my dad coaching me all the way to the restaurant. I received the job and was begrudging my dad for making me do it. Guess what? He was right! I ended up loving my job at McDonald's.
I learned the effort I gave landed me promotions and a paycheck. I made new friends. I learned time management. At one point, I needed my dad to step in when I wanted to work more than my school studies would permit, which he did. He praised my efforts and gently pointed out how a consequence of working too much while in high school would affect my grades – right again! Great parenting!
Effort is to the 3 E's like Reading is to the 3 R's. It changes everything. It opens up the world to possibilities. Employers and expectations are easily accomplished when effort is nurtured, encouraged and rewarded through perseverance!
Parents, never underestimate your role in your child’s life. Your job as a parent has a lasting impact! Keep your high expectations for your child’s effort. It will make a difference in their drive for succeeding in life.