“Stop the world, I want to get off!” is the regular refrain of time-pressured parents today. “Give me an experience and I’ll promise you a relationship,” is the mantra of their children. The world has changed. The future has changed. Childhood is changing. Raising children has never been more challenging – or potentially rewarding (http://www.brightideasoutfit.com/books/future-proof-your-child/)

Last night Emma and I were doing ‘ballet’. I use the word loosely because there was Emma on her supposed tippy toes, arms ungracefully above her head twirling around. Me too. If a passer-by had looked through our front door they would have thought Emma and I were both a little tipsy the way we were falling around.

At the moment Emma’s extra-mural activity is Be Sharp Beetles. We’re also going to start swimming lessons for her soon, for some exercise and to be water-wise. As she gets older we’ll add a few more activities. As her mom I don’t want her day filled up with swimming and music lessons and dancing and art and and and…in my opinion (and just like chin hairs, we all have one) it’s too much too soon for someone still coming to grips with their world. I don’t want her to miss out on just being a toddler for now.

Having said that, just this morning I had said to Mark that I would love for Emma to learn chess. There are two reasons for this. Firstly research shows that chess is an inexpensive way of helping kids grow mentally. In this technologically driven world, chess helps aid in the synthesis and growth of certain areas in the brain and mind where many children can benefit as they grow older from the game (http://www.susanpolgar.com/susan-polgar-foundation-benefits.html).

Also it helps children to focus, visualize, think ahead, weigh up options, analyze concretely, think abstractly and plan. It teaches children a whole lot of skills while they’re having fun.

Secondly, Emma would have to belong to the chess club at school making her ‘nerdy, therefore making her less accessible to the ‘jocks’ on the playground. You see, I’ve thought ahead, I’ve weighed up options, I’ve thought abstractly, analyzed concretely and planned…

Mark was a little taken aback and said he would prefer for her to learn a language or a musical instrument, which I agree with, but I still think chess is a good idea.

I was still thinking about the kinds of activities that Emma would enjoy and still benefit from while driving to work. And the next thing John Robbie is introducing Nikki Bush, co-author of “Future Proofing Your Child”. The book looks at the challenges parents face raising their children in a future we don’t even understand. One of the things she said that really stood out for me is that our children will have jobs that we haven’t even thought of yet and there’s a chance that by the time they’re 38 they would have had 10-14 jobs.

According to the book our children are going to have to ramp up their creativity as innovation will be the life-blood of companies in the future. With much more automation of jobs our children will have to be able to do that which computers can’t – utilize creativity and imagination. She made mention that an MBA graduate might get one job offer, while an arts student will get 10, based on their creativity, the imagination and their ability to think outside the box.

We already know that being employed nowadays does not equal security. Companies can no longer promise you the security of a salary or a bonus because they can’t guarantee employment. So we need a generation of children with entrepreneurial mindsets because many will be self-employed. Being an entrepreneur demands a very different skill set to being employed and this is something parents will have to nurture in their children.

Bush also says that children will need more than just grades to thrive in the future. They will need certain X-factors to be successful, including creativity, resilience, a love of learning, the ability to relate to others and self-knowledge. And these are things that cannot be taught in a classroom. It’s no longer a case of DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I DO for parents with young children. They are sponges and learn visually so we have to change our mindset to DO AS I DO…

This immediately got me thinking about the kind of school we should look at for Emma. I find myself in a bit of a quandary with this, because if, like Nikki says, Emma could be doing something I haven’t even imagined, then how do I know what kind of schooling she needs. It’s no longer just about academics so we need to comsider schools that encourage free-thinking, creativity, imagination and exploration, like Waldorf and Montessori.

The interview on 702 was brief but I’m definitely going to get a copy of the book to find out more on how Mark and I can embrace this challenge and enjoy the ride with Emma.

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2 thoughts on “Future Proofing Your Child

  1. Chess is an awesome sport – Cameron does it (along with soccer, cricket and swimming *sigh*) and its really really great.

    Its actually one of the sports recommended for kids who battle with attention because they have to focus all the time and each game is different.

    Looking for schools is a tough one and we are so fortunate to have found a public school that caters for my sports mad son and out of the box daughter.

    Good luck 🙂

  2. Cool to see this post – my colleague, Graeme, co-authored this book and it's not often my work and colour giggles cross over. It's a great read – both Nikki and Graeme have some brilliant advice for what face our little monkeys and us parents!!!

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