Lifelong Learning and Success

Dad and son on the computer together

The MacKenzie family moved around a lot. They home schooled during the seven years the parents served as missionaries overseas, and they eventually moved to Oklahoma after a short stint in another state where their children attended a Christian school. Soon after entering the public middle school in their community, their son Anthony went into a downward spiral. He'd scored very low on standardized tests taken on enrollment day, and after a week or two, he was so discouraged with his low test scores and mounds of homework, he wanted to quit.

Anthony's mom, Maggie, began volunteering in his classroom one afternoon a week. There she realized more clearly the challenges and expectations for sixth graders. The teacher gave her supplemental materials for Anthony, and she began working with him after school at home — having him reading his science and history textbooks aloud; providing extra books, maps, and atlases from the library to enrich the material; and equipping him with study strategies.

When the students were to enter the science fair, Anthony found a project that piqued his curiosity; his mom, dad, and brothers helped him find interesting resources and cheered him on as he worked. When he was awarded first place in his division, Anthony, who'd always been in the shadow of his two high-achieving older siblings, began to feel more confident. After that success, he made it a goal to get straight A's and worked even harder. During the many months Anthony persevered, his parents focused on his progress and effort, instead of on what he hadn't yet achieved or an occasional low grade.

It wasn't easy and Anthony had plenty of setbacks, but with his optimism, effort, and determination fueling him, by the end of the next year, he'd made all A's for the first time ever, and his standardized test scores went way up.

This young man didn't stop there. Though he had to work harder than other classmates to get high grades, by college he was a 4.0 student and was on the president's honor roll. Along the way, the boy who struggled with middle-school homework fell in love with learning, which took him to a Japanese university to teach English as a second language and on a history fellowship to tour and write of his travels in Europe and around the world. Now in his late 20s, this lifelong learner plans to study for a Ph.D. and become a college professor.

Just as Anthony's parents found, there are many ways you can equip your child for lifelong learning and success: Be a homework consultant and encourager yet leave the ownership of the responsibility with your child or be a role model to impact your child's achievement. After all your positive home environment that supports learning and develops strong character and values is vital as you build momentum for lifelong learning.

Adapted from Handbook on Choosing Your Child's Education, a Focus on the Family book published by Tyndale House Publishers. Copyright © 2007, Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

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