Educate your children

Last week I received an email where a mother wrote: “It is hard to raise children in this changing time for people like us. Other families send their children to educational tutorials or STEM school to learn technology and robotics, but we cannot afford it. We are worrying that our children will be at a disadvantage when they grow up. We do not know what to do? Please advise.”

Answer: “Every parent knows that what they do with their children today will become important in the next ten or twenty years. If you educate them right, they will do well, but if not, they could be at a disadvantage. When the parents read about children who score high on some tests and do well in life, they send their children to tutorial school, but the fact is many children who had the highest test score might not succeed as expected. When they hear that today children must know technology, they send their children to technical schools, but the fact is technology is changing fast, what they learn today may not be what they will need when growing up.

In my opinion, what the children need today is a “Proper Education” about their responsibilities, so they can grow up to be responsible persons to their family, and their country. The mind of young children is like a blank page; it is up to the parents and teachers to “write in.” If you teach them honesty, they will become honest persons; if you teach responsibility, they will become responsible persons. It is up to how much effort and time you put in to educate them; they will grow up accordingly. There is an old saying: “Be near the lamp, it is bright; be near the ink, it is dark.” Meaning it is up to the way children are educated, and without a good education from parents and teachers, the children will be under the influence of others. My advice for parents and educators is to think carefully about your duty on how to educate your children so they can become ethical persons and good citizens in the future.

Today many parents are too busy so they “outsource” the education of their children to the “tutorial schools,” but what students learn in these school are just “necessary skills” to pass tests, but NOT ENOUGH for them to grow up and be responsible for themselves. These schools teach students to memorize facts to pass exams, but not helping them to build a good learning habit that could lead to the “lifelong learning” attitude and nurturing them to be responsible for what they do. Many of these schools already failed in their educational mission because of their greed and irresponsible. The education has become a “business to make money” instead of properly educate the students. Some of these schools also teach students to compete among themselves, so “Pass and Fail” are considered “Success and Failure.” In this type of education, students learn at their very early age to be aggressive toward others, to be the top person, and achieving their goal regardless of the consequences. When these students grow up, all they want is to get to the top position, to be famous, and make money instead of doing something to better their society or helping other people.

I believe spending time with your children is one of the best things you can do for their development and education. It does NOT mean you have to spend a lot of time, but “effective time.” For example, in the U.S. and Europe, most parents spend the time to read with their children. Reading books can help children develop knowledge about the world, about things that surround them, and support them to enrich their imagination. A few years ago, I read from a Child Psychology book that children have a “special way” to let their parents know that they need them. When they are very young, they cry to demand the time with parents; In kindergarten, they misbehave to get parents’ attention; in Elementary school, they may fight with another classmate to get parents to come in. Basically, it is their way to get parents to spend time with them.

Spending time with your children provides them with opportunities to learn from you and whatever you want them to learn. Most of all, it provides you and your children time to connect and develop the relationship. You do not need to send your children to particular tutorial school, but if you can spend time with them doing something that you both enjoy. Do NOT worry that your child will be at the disadvantage because children learn first from watching and learning from their parents. When you are with them, this is the time where you can educate them. You do not have to say much because what you do is enough for them to learn. For example, if you like to read books, your children will develop good reading habit even you do not say anything as they learn from your behavior. Of course, if you spend most of the time watching TV, or play video games, your children could pick up that habit very fast. Fundamentally, it is up to you on how do you want to educate your children by investing in the quality time with them.


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University