The Importance Of The Formative Years To A Student's Success Later In Life
It is commonly known in the psychological fields that a child's formative years are some of the most critical in their lives. These years give a child the foundation they use to understand and interpret the world. What is done during these years has ripple effects that carry on for the rest of the child's life. This is also true as it relates to a child's academic success later in life. The things done for and with a child during their formative years have ripples effects that last a lifetime.
For parents in particular, the habits instilled in a child during their first few years may be what determines their success or failure in life. These critical early years are that important. In particular, the most important thing that needs to be developed during these critical years are useful habits for the student's future success. Habits like learning how to focus, be disciplined, learn from mistakes, and learn for yourself are critical tools which help ensure that a student is well equipped to deal with their future scholarly education. When these habits are expanded and refined with time it creates a student who is light years ahead of their peers academically by the time they reach high-school, and is truly in a league of their own by the time they graduate.
With that being said, we're going to cover the very formative years of a student's development and highlight what parents can do to get better results for themselves and their children.
The Importance Of Elementary School
Elementary school, while not too significant in helping to determine whether a student will get into an elite institution or not, is very significant in preparing a student for the rest of their educational, scholarly, and professional life down the road. We have seen repeatedly in successful people, that their journeys truly started in their formative years with their parents. The way their parents helped them grow and learn put them on the path which led to their massive success later in life.
At this stage in a student's journey, the particular decisions a child makes is irrelevant as to whether they make it into an elite institution or not, but instead the habits and disciplines the child builds during this time will either help them soar past their peers and right to the top, or will make it that much harder for them to get there.
The Key Skills Student Needs To Learn At This Stage Of Their Lives
Of all the habits and activities we have seen which help a student on their journey, none are perhaps more important than these:
Creative Problem Solving
With any 3 of these skills mastered a student will easily rank at the top of their classes in no time, and with 4 or 5 mastered, they increase their odds of getting into any elite institution four or five fold.
While it may seem obvious that these traits are the traits of success in general, very few students take the time to acquire them at an early age and then are leagues behind their peers who take the time to acquire them by the time they reach middle and high school.
In a survey we conducted with some of the brightest students in the country as to the disciplines that were instilled in them from an early age, 98% of them cited that three or more of these disciplines were taught to them at an early age.
If there is anything a student can do to increase their odds of making it into any elite institution, they can begin to build these disciplines into their life at a young age and have it pay tremendous dividends in the future.
We estimate that possibly 50% of all student success in the classroom during high school can be traced back to study habits and skills they learned before the age of 12 which simply carried over into the rest of the education careers.
This is why these years are especially critical as the years from 5 - 12 shape the rest of a students life in a fundamental way from 18 - 80.
How to get started
Building difficult behaviors takes time and often don't work at first, so it is especially important that these behaviors are introduced as early as possible in as subtle a way as possible.
Something which should not be done is introducing a radical shift in a students behaviors later in their lives, teenage years, as this will simply cause those changes to be rejected very quickly and the time spent trying to adopt the new behaviors will be for nothing.
Getting started with this should be as simple as possible so that the behavior can stick and is welcome in the young student’s life as opposed to being rejected once they get a bit older.
Something we’ve repeatedly come across with successful students is about 10 minutes of reading, writing, and mathematical problem solving a day on a consistent basis to help give the child a little bit of an edge over other students. Usually, parents start educating their children on the basics in ten minute sessions 5 to 7 times a week in basic reading, writing, and arithmetic from about the time the student can count until they are the age of about 12. Then, from that point, they either step back and let their child learn at their own pace from their teachers at school, or they further accelerate them by introducing a tutor the help truly put their child ahead.
Here is an excerpt from a student we interviewed whose mother would do this very thing:
“... I remember waking up and right after breakfast my mom would set a 45 minutes timer and we would do 10 minutes of math together, take a 5 minute break for me to play with my toys or something, then we would do 10 minutes of reading, take another 5 minute break, then 10 minutes of writing where I would write as much as possible on the books I just read. She’d review it during the last 5 minutes and if I did a good job I’d get a reward, some candy, or a kiss or something like that, if not, I’d get nothing. Once the timer was up, she’d dress me up and drop me off at school... I think that might have been my edge because by the time I was 9 I was ranking at the top of my class in reading, writing, and math, and by the time senior year rolled around I was the Valedictorian of the class… I remember being in a classes, even one with smart kids, where we would have to focus and read for 30 minutes straight, and because I had been doing that since I was literally like 4, I had no problem with it, while some other kids couldn’t... It was strange to think that something I did that long ago changed my life in that big a way, but I guess it did...”
Why This Is Important
The reason this works is because, while very short, when repeated daily over long periods of time the results compound tremendously.
If you take 10 minutes a day to do reading, writing, and math, by the end of the year you’ll have logged 3,650 minutes! Or 61 hours or additional learning time! Now, if you start at age 6 and continue it through to age 12, that’s 366 hours, or 46 entire additional school days of instructional time that someone who didn’t go through this doesn’t have per subject. So if you do this for reading, writing, and math, that’s nearly 140 school days of learning! That’s almost an entire year ahead, excluding the compounding which results from the learning itself. That’s a huge competitive advantage!
This will lead to leagues of separation between the student who does this and the student who doesn't and by the time they both reach middle school, there will start to be a growing gap between both students that will just keep expanding over time. By the time an average student and this student reach high school, that gap will be almost insurmountable.
What to do:
For parents reading this, we recommend that you pick some time in the day where you can spend 45 minutes with your child and execute the following routine:
10 minutes of mathematics (preferably word problems at your child’s level)
5 minute break for your child to unwind and play for a little
10 minutes of reading (again, a book at your child’s reading level is preferred)
5 minute break for your child to unwind and play for a little
10 minutes of writing about the book just read
5 minute discussion about the book to facilitate communication skills
If you do this consistently, over the course of two or three years, your child will be consistently at the top of their class, and over the course of 5 or 6, they will be in a league of their own.
In our post next week, we'll cover the critical middle schools years and what parents and students can do to make sure that these years run as smoothly as possible and that they place themselves in the best position to succeed.
Next Post: Middle School Madness ->
As usual, you can always contact us here to suggest a topic we could cover, or, if you'd like a one on one consultation about something personal that you would like some guidance and advice with, you can contact us here.
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