Encourage your child to think about college at an early age

Mar 24 2015

By Amy Hamilton, SMART529

As a parent, you probably started thinking about your child’s future before they were even born. Dreaming about them growing up, graduating high school, going to college, and so much more. Yes, it’s nice to dream about your child’s future, but how do you teach your kids to start dreaming about their future? Here are a few ideas:

Read, read, read- it is never too early to start reading to your child (even babies). Offer a trip to the library as a treat. Enroll your child in a summer reading program. For those who don’t “love” to read, encourage them with a magazine subscription like Highlights, Appleseeds, or National Geographic. Students with good reading habits learn how to study much easier on their own.

Learn time management- help your child learn time management skills for doing their homework, chores and playing extra-curricular activities. Keeping them on a schedule is a great way to build a successful college student.

Be curious- allow your child to be inquisitive. Encourage them to seek out things that interest them, whether it be sports, science, art etc. This may lead them down the road to their future career choice.

Teach your child to save-children can be very excited about saving money. Starting a college savings account at an early age is a great way to start a savings discussion. Some parents may even agree to match their child’s college savings from allowance, birthday, etc. You might also add more as reward for good grades. Encourage family and friends to contribute to a college savings account rather than receiving another toy that won’t last the year.

Letting your child know that you are saving for their future education will also encourage them to dream about their future. Studies show that children with some form of college savings (even small amounts) are much more likely to attend college because they know it is expected.  

We also need to realize some children might not be interested in a traditional college or university. Don’t forget about all the other higher education institutions available. Over the years, I’ve heard of many students from West Virginia going on to animation school, culinary school, barber/beauty school and even equestrian college. The possibilities are endless!

Now is the time to consider opening a SMART529 College Savings account for your child! Go to www.SMART529.com for enrollment information or call 1-866-574-3542.

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