Best Education money can afford - from start to finish.

(121 Posts)
mirtzapine Fri 08-Nov-13 14:55:28

This isn't meant to be intense or anything, what I'm looking for is some direction, advice and information.

I was fortunate enough to have two very intelligent grandparents who helped me a lot. I went to a pretty bad (state) school that didn't help much. I also spent a lot of time bunking school, sitting in the local library where the Head Librarian was a former house-master of a well known boarding school in the west country. He took a lot of time with me knowing my grandparents and knowing the reasons I bunked school. I used my part-time job money to pay for 'o' levels at night school that got me into the grammar school sixth from. From there to university and on to post grad.

The downside of my "unconventional" education is that the basics of effective study, doing homework, mocks for exams &c.bypassed me, so its always been a real struggle for me to study and sit exams, by some means or other, I've passed them.

I have no intention of being a "Tiger Parent", but I would like my two dd's to have the best groundings possible from schooling, so that in the future the world will be their oyster - educationally speaking, the pick of the litter, so to speak when it comes to Universities and courses.

Financially, I've worked that bit out, projecting inflation, cost of living and ancillary costs over the next 23 years based on the three London Schools I'd like them to go to and the four RG Universities to doctoral level.

Sounds a bit harsh, eh! mapping out their lives like that. That's not the intention, the intention is to plan the best possible. if they choose to go on different paths - b'ezrat Hashem (shrugs shoulders).

My Question:
So from experience, knowledge and understanding, what do people consider necessary to ground them on the right paths to educational success?

Erebus Fri 08-Nov-13 15:11:19

First of all recognise that, with the best will in the world, you only have so much influence over your DCs. An 'excellent' education, to your mind, might be completely wrong for them, or differ wildly from one DC to the other.

Take a proper interest in them, involve yourself as far is appropriate in their lives, step in where things are going off track, ensure they're reasonably happy in their school, ensure homework is done, get tutors if key areas haven't been understood, but don't go mad. Don't assume 'private' is automatically better.

So much is actually out of your hands! Sometimes it's good remind oneself of that!

When it comes down to it, I must say that you sound a bit 'Tiger' mother, eyeing up RG unis to doctoral level! What if one wants to become a performance artist rather than a lawyer?! Or an acrobat rather than a banker?

mirtzapine Fri 08-Nov-13 16:06:11

why can't they be a performance artist and a lawyer, or be an Arial gymnast and a quantitative analyst.

Eyeing up RG universities. eyeing up the realism of what future costs will be.

No most of it isn't out of my hands, it will be down to me to give them the best guidance possible so therefore in my hands.

What they choose to be, will be what they choose to be (intonation and inflection does not come across with the typed word).

Don't you think its better to provide for doctoral level, even if they don't use it. Than them wanting to go that far and I can't provide!

Ilovegeorgeclooney Fri 08-Nov-13 18:03:45

Make sure they read widely and daily, learn a musical instrument and take part in a weekly sporting activity. All the most academically able and socially successful children I have know seem to do these things.

SthingMustBeScaringThemAway Fri 08-Nov-13 18:15:24

You haven't said exactly how old they are (but I suppose I must make assumptions based on 23 years forward planning?)

Strangely my first thought - after thinking about your OP - is that perhaps a small element of struggle might be no bad thing. A reason to strive? Because you've got everything laid out on a plate for them already.... How would your own life have turned out if there had not been an element of self-motivation?

bamboostalks Fri 08-Nov-13 18:19:30

I think that the Montessori model of education combined with a Forest School approach could simply not be bettered for the best start to the world of education.

schoolnurse Fri 08-Nov-13 19:50:30

In my experience? Stop planning your children's lives for them, let them choose their own route through life; my DH and SIL had their lives mapped out for them like this, top London super selectives (ok they went there) Oxbridge "good job" etc both at 16 he dropped out of the whole thing. The relationship between my MIL and them is permanently scarred. I regularly see children who have not gone to that "London school" that their parents were desperate to get them into, children who can't give up certain activities because "dad won't like it" these are not happy children. Instead wish and where possible plan for your children to be healthy and happy, that wherever they go to school they love learning for the sake of it, expose them informally to art, drama ,music, debate, can they identify 20 British birds, flowers, famous paintings, quote poetry, can they recognise Mozart from Beethoven, do they know the difference between capitalism and socialism, basic economics and care about the less fortunate? Do they have the confidence to go against the crowd, to speak out when they see an injustice. This as parents is our responsibility.

schoolnurse Fri 08-Nov-13 19:51:15

Interesting name by the way!

Erebus Fri 08-Nov-13 20:23:22

You say "why can't they be a performance artist and a lawyer, or be an Arial gymnast and a quantitative analyst"- yet you say you're "eyeing up the realism".


Meanwhile, back on Earth... grin. I think you actually recognise I mean 'performance artist' and 'acrobat' as a career not a quirky hobby whilst they pursue global super-stardom as lawyers and quantitative analysts.

schoolnurse has warned against why it isn't always a good idea to assume your take on 'what's best' isn't necessarily what your DC will thank you for. OK, there are plenty of examples of where the DC have completely concurred with mum and dad's pre-ordained plans for their future- we all recall the 8 year old Prep boys in '7 Up' announcing which Cambridge College they were destined for!- but I'd vouch there are plenty more whose parents regard them as having failed in life because they haven't followed The Plan.

I speak as a mother who's had to do a real re-evaluation of my 'expectations' for my DSs. I'd always assumed it'd be high flying and RG- before they were born!- but then I recognised I'd created two utterly individual people with their own IQ, interests, motivations, psychologies, likes, dislikes, and that I could only really be their committed shepherd and guide, not their dictator.

Lonecatwithkitten Fri 08-Nov-13 21:26:14

When I look back and my friends from Uni. The most successful individuals have the most hands off, but supportive parents. Between us there is a GP, a Vet, an editor of an international read journal, 3 directors/vice presidents of international banks/bond houses, a deputy head teacher and a Hollywood film editor. Not one of those have a doctorate. We are fortunate that we are alumni of an exceptional institution, but not Oxbridge again we all choose this ourselves.
When I look at those who were 'guided' by their parents they have struggled to settle in the careers they were guided into and in several cases have retrained in something else.
By all means budget for the possible costs, but don't hold it over them.
Individuals will be most successful when they choose their own path.

BerstieSpotts Fri 08-Nov-13 21:36:10

I don't know that buying "the best education money can buy" (by which I suppose you mean the most expensive, or the most prestigious institutions regardless of cost, perhaps?) will necessarily instill "the basics of effective study, doing homework, mocks for exams etc". I went all the way through a conventional education, okay, not private etc, but conventional very much so, and I didn't gain those things from school.

I would actually say that home education, especially autonomous home education, with access to resources and good emotional support would be the absolute best environment to nurture these kind of skills, and provide motivation and support for children to follow their own dreams and interests. Certainly, everything I have read on the subject implies that this seems to produce children who are motivated and skilled in this manner, not because they have been coached into it, but because they have a real passion for the subject, a love for learning and they want to explore that area.

Perhaps that would be an option to consider directing the funds towards?

BerstieSpotts Fri 08-Nov-13 21:38:46

Most definitely not the only option, of course, but certainly worth considering. I am keen on Montessori and Forest school type things for younger children for the same reasons, as somebody mentioned above. They don't seek to push children into what they "should" or even "could" be capable of, but instead foster a slower-burning, but perhaps more long term interest and confidence in their own abilities which, hopefully, leads to teenagers and adults who are able to choose their own paths.

Coconutty Fri 08-Nov-13 21:40:45

Hahaha, this is better than the Friday night bum sex threads.

Thanks, OP.

joanofarchitrave Fri 08-Nov-13 21:45:45

Take them to a thriving place of worship and enrol them in the youth programme, whatever it is (Hebrew schoo, choir, Sunday school...?) Hey presto, an expansion app for their education without parallel.

Lancelottie Fri 08-Nov-13 21:48:19

Well, best of luck; but children have a way of derailing the best-laid plans, you know.

One of ours has plenty of intelligence but no organisational skills or wish to do anything other than perform (so I grinned rather at Erebus's comment above).

One has autism. Oddly, he could in fact be the better Oxbridge prospect, if we can keep him mentally stable that long.

The other wants to be a dog trainer...

cory Fri 08-Nov-13 21:57:45

Are they old enough for you to know for sure that they are intelligent enough for those Russell Group universities and whatnot? It is not that rare for academic families to produce one sibling who struggles to keep up.

teacherwith2kids Fri 08-Nov-13 22:00:12

I smiled.

Having witnessed the upset caused in a relative's family when the pre-planned 'all our children will be automatons' educational progress was derailed at an early hurdle by [shock, horror] the first child not passing the entrance test to the selected-after-years-of-research top flight private school, I would say 'see where your children take you'.

At 3, had you asked me where I wanted DS to be, I would have said (had we lived in our current town at the time) the superselective grammar. However, for various reasons - ASD traits, a period of selective mutism, a certain ineradicable 'being wired sideways-ness', some Home Ed, a school move, a re-evaluation of what we REALLY wanted in his school - he's at the local comp, through choice.

He may well end up in the same place. He's just taking the scenic route. While DD, equally academic, is taking a very scenic route via performing arts.

It's fun, where your children take you. It's just not always the direction, or the route, that you would have planned.

rhetorician Fri 08-Nov-13 22:07:29

The 'best education money can buy' probably can't be bought IYSWIM. Because the best education is the one that suits your child's aptitudes, ambitions, abilities and personality, not an institution with a reputation. Reputations can change, and I wouldn't be planning for higher ed in 20 years time if there's going to be as much change as in the last 20. (I work in the field).

rhetorician Fri 08-Nov-13 22:08:19

Ps, the best education money can buy turned out in my case to be the one that my parents paid for through their taxes, but that's a different thread

southeastastra Fri 08-Nov-13 22:09:35

i can never understand why we expect our little children to have their childhoods taken away with such bizarre and over the top schooling

the best education is something that is learnt over a lifetime taken at the learners pace

lljkk Fri 08-Nov-13 22:49:33

based on the three London Schools I'd like them to go to and the four RG Universities to doctoral level.

I am twitching to know WHICH four RG Unis (& presumably only those Unis) are to OP's satisfaction.

(STAMPS FOOT) Why is no one on RG-obsessed MN talking about the disbanding of the 94 group today? Hmph.

Xochiquetzal Fri 08-Nov-13 23:08:06

I don't think anyone can really tell you what the best options for your children are as the best education money can buy very much depends on what your children need and what they enjoy, it may not even be the same for both of your DD's. I would find a nice, friendly prep school where you think they will be happy (if they are unhappy they will be less likely to develop a love of learning and no one will stay on for post grad without a love of learning) budget for the most expensive you can possibly afford then see what the best fit is as they get older.

As for planning that far ahead, be careful how much pressure you put on your DDs, my Mum planned for me to go to a super-selective school then to a decent university (her heart was set on Oxford), what actually happened was I rebelled against having all my choices made for me, deliberately got myself expelled from the super-selective school in the first year, went to a really rough comp, had DS when I was 15 and am now, at 25, only just doing my degree having spent the last 7 years as a barmaid.

losingtrust Fri 08-Nov-13 23:13:01

My sis, less academic than me and other sis failed to get to RG, took Theater Studies, then Media Studies and now earns more than both us and doing a job she enjoys. My parents were very hands off and let us choose our own. I intend to save for potential futures but they will choose their own way but with a little guidance now and again. My cousin has also had a good career in performing arts and my great uncle was Hollywood actor. Really nothing wrong with performing arts.

DavidHarewoodsFloozy Fri 08-Nov-13 23:15:18

OP, really? Sweet baby Jesus, you get no guarantees with your children.

Some might think twenty-three years forward planning is slighly unhinged.

losingtrust Fri 08-Nov-13 23:15:23

Incidentally some of the UK's greatest exports are our creatives.

Ecuador Fri 08-Nov-13 23:21:05

Blimey OP hmm.

I think you are in danger of peaking too early - 23 years???

Cannot imagine putting that much thought into it tbh, there are just so many unknowns. I would just relax a lot bit and enjoy the journey <passes joint around>.

Taz1212 Sat 09-Nov-13 08:09:10

I'm assuming what you are really asking is how to inspire a love of learning so that you can brainwash your children into following your desired path (and I say that lightly as this is what I do to my children grin ). I would make sure you include in your budget money for lots and lots of extra curricular activities. Get them involved in a wide variety covering the arts, sports and outdoors. During the summer find as many taster courses as you can- last summer my DD(8) did horse riding, rock climbing, swimming, sailing, art class, nature camp etc, all just little tasters so she could see what she really likes. Travel with them- do lots of city breaks where they can experience different cultures and languages and learn more about history.

Make it clear to them that you want them learning for the sake of learning and that by having the best education possible they will have the choice to do whatever they want, whether it's baking cakes (like my DD currently wants) or becoming a vet (my DS' obsession). Be interested in their school days and encourage them to volunteer for positions at school (e.g. Eco grou ep, class rep etc) as well as joining in with whatever school activities take their fancy.

LondonMother Sat 09-Nov-13 08:41:12

My children went to a local state nursery school. It didn't cost us a penny but I don't believe they could have got a better start to their education anywhere.

I hate the idea of trying to push children in any particular direction. You can't live somebody else's life for them and you can't use your children to make up for the things you wish you could have done.

Example 1: I would have loved to have ballet lessons as a child, but there wasn't the money. When my daughter was little, I asked her if she would like to go to a dancing class. She said yes and I was over the moon. One of the most useful lessons I have ever learned as a parent then followed. She didn't enjoy the lessons much and showed no aptitude whatsoever. The fact that she looked incredibly cute in the pink leotard was as nothing compared to the effect the whole exercise was having on her self-esteem. So I had to swallow my disappointment and suggest that she could stop the class any time she wanted. She chose to stop, without a backward glance.

Example 2: a friend of mine told me about a family she knew. The mother was determined that her child would get into Oxford or Cambridge. Child wanted to do English. Mother said no, you won't get in if you apply to do English. You stand a much better chance if you apply to do Theology. Child agreed, got in, was intensely miserable. This story made me really angry on that young person's behalf. Think of the years of brainwashing and bullying that must have gone on for the mother to be able to force her adult or near-adult child to follow her plan and not make their own decisions about their life plans.

schoolnurse Sat 09-Nov-13 08:54:53

My parents were very keen on poetry and literature this was on their wall when I was a child:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

Lancelottie Sat 09-Nov-13 09:03:06

I'm quite tickled at the thought of how many of us (presumably quite academic ourselves?) on this thread have children whose one true love is the performing arts.

Help them to think for themselves, OP, if you can. DD is a bit too scared to do things we might disapprove of at the moment.

mirtzapine Sat 09-Nov-13 09:58:16

I feel that a lot of people have already decided that I have already decided to push them down a certain route. What I have done is assess what are the highest financial costs are and plan the funding, if the DC are able to or want to go down that route.

I would say that Ilovegeorgeclooney and the latter haft of schoolnurse's post is the information I was looking for. How to become "well rounded".

As for self-motivation, they'll have to discover that themselves. Mine was as supply teacher, who stood in-front of my class ranting for an hour about how useless we all were, would never amount to anything and were all scum - with examples. As that moment I thought to myself "fuck you love, I'm getting out of this shit". As a motivational force that is very unlikly to happen now-a-days.

What I'm after is the proviso of paying where necessary, with an understanding of the intangible hidden extras that will give intelligent and socially adept future. here is nothing dictatorial, about any of this." No plan survives first contact..." von Moltke. I'm using that as an allusion

Home-schooling or unschooling is a no, I won't have the patience, inclination or the ability to do that,I know my limitations, unless I paid for the tutoring at home which btw the financial plan I have would be able to cope with. I think that would be un-necessarily over complicated, as the prime element to the fp is me working to earn the money.

lljkk Sat 09-Nov-13 10:14:11

Which 4 RG Unis meet your approval, OP?
What if your child doesn't like any sport and has a tin ear for music, though?
I would like to answer seriously, if I could give the best education money could buy... except that I think the child would decide whether that happened. Not my money.

Pukkapik Sat 09-Nov-13 10:33:29

Your guidance throughout the 23 years should simply be - are my DDs happy, motivated, learning and interested, open minded, and kind?
As they get older, you may still be a sounding board, but they will lead you.

I think education is very important and I do send my DC private but one of the reasons I do that is to stop me pushing them too hard myself. They are getting a broad education and there is enough competitiveness in the school to motivate the DC to try hard without it being demotivated.

I had some fairly clear ideas about senior schools but as my children have got older and been diagnosed with dyslexia I am seriously reevaluating what sort of school would suit them. A more pressured environment may not be the right place even if they can cope academically with the work. I am now considering schools that I hadn't really thought about previously.

Put the money away for a PhD if you want - you can always use it to give them a start on the housing ladder.

Oh and my non-RG uni was more highly ranked than most RG unis for Law in the last research assessment. Choosing RG is a blunt tool.

antimatter Sat 09-Nov-13 10:50:19

imho having time to get to know your children is as important as having them in good schools

So if for that matter you plan that your future income covers schools fees/ music lessons/other activities - would you be at home early enough to talk to them every day and take them to their activities?

What if you become a single parent as I am?
I was lucky to get a job where I am at home by 4 pm, working full time etc & see them a lot every day. I know it pays massive part in how they feel about our relationship and how important that is for their wellbeing. I see every teacher of their extra curricula activities & can talk to them.

IAlwaysThought Sat 09-Nov-13 10:55:39

Plan their schooling but don't plan their University education. That would be be very tiger'ish indeed confused.

University education is changing fast, I wouldn't worry about deciding where is good or not until closer to the time your kids are ready to go.

CreamyCooler Sat 09-Nov-13 11:04:53

My plan has been a good education and the best home life I can provide, this seems to be working well.

IAlwaysThought Sat 09-Nov-13 11:07:26

Now that's a good plan Creamer smile.

IAlwaysThought Sat 09-Nov-13 11:07:51

Sorry creamy not creamer

CreamyCooler Sat 09-Nov-13 11:09:50

Thankyou IAlwaysThought.

peteneras Sat 09-Nov-13 12:02:30

To be honest, if I allowed my DC to decide for themselves the course they like to take, my DS will now be a very successful train driver. Thomas the Tank Engine was his best friend.

marriedinwhiteisback Sat 09-Nov-13 12:30:13

OK for DS we did state until 8. Then prep - fees started at £10,000 per annum I think - when he left last year the annual bill was about £21,000. Can't give you an exact figure but probably about £150,000 for 10 years at one of the best London Day schools. He goes to Oxford next September and we are planning on paying his fees and expenses so a further £54,000.

DD did state until 13 (11-13 was a mistake). Her fees come to about £18,000 pa so over five years just short of £100,000. Again uni will be £54,000 although she has aspirations to do drama and we have said that once she has some professional quals under her belt we will fund something like RADA.

Had they both gone the pre-prep paid route I guess you could probably add another £100,000 easily.

Remember one thing OP the fees only increase. And another thing your children can come from the same pod, experience the same things and be entirely different in the context of ability, aspiration, work ethic, interests and confidence.

All parents can do really is love them, feed them, facilitate them, support them, and let them find their niche. Providing you do that and can say you have done your very best apart from the semantics about facilities, selection, languages and sport, I don't think their ultimate happiness and success will be influenced because one pays. I think it gives them sometimes an easier ride but I'm not certain it makes a huge difference except for the innate confidence it imparts and some have that anyway.

OldRoan Sat 09-Nov-13 12:36:19

Our family friend's son goes to a nursery on a local farm, run by the farmer's wife. They go outside and get wet and muddy on a daily basis, and the farmer drives the tractor past sometimes. They see some animals, and they collect eggs etc.

I would start with something like that, and then roll with how my children develop.

I speak as someone who had an entirely private education until university and now working in a state primary. Pretty sure I would have been happier at the primary where I teach than the place where I was originally educated.

OldRoan Sat 09-Nov-13 12:41:12

Also, I should add, my degree was not in education. My friends from school are generally all doctors/lawyers/city types and it would have been relatively easy to get a foot in the door had I wanted a city career.

I spent my 4 years at university battling to work out what I wanted, and chose teaching. Everyone was surprised (my GCSE biology teacher said to my face "it won't make you rich, you know.") but my parents regularly tell their friends how happy they are that I have found what I enjoy doing. It took a long time, but they knew I had to do it for myself and stood back and watched me make my mistakes, safe in the knowledge they would help to pick me up and start again.

I never learned the piano, though. They refused to nag me and so when I refused to practise, the lessons stopped. My biggest regret. I wish they had pushed me, but I can see that they were making me take responsibility for my own learning from a young age and I am grateful for that.

Ecuador Sat 09-Nov-13 12:55:42

OldRoan I love the farm nursery that sounds so fab!

teacherwith2kids Sat 09-Nov-13 13:07:10

"To be honest, if I allowed my DC to decide for themselves the course they like to take, my DS will now be a very successful train driver. "

I don't think that ANYONE here has said that children should decide the course that they would like to take. I see my role as a parent wrt education as being really understanding my children and their needs / strengths / weaknesses / quirks, and then finding the best educational option for them.

'Going where your children take you' was not meant to imply that my children - at least at their current ages of 10 and 12 - get to choose their school, qualifications, courses. The point I was trying to make is that finding the best education for your child is all about starting with the child, and finding the education to suit the real child in front of you, rather than finding 'the best education' in isolation and then trying to mould your children to fit it.

Elibean Sat 09-Nov-13 14:07:22

I would add to George Clooney's post: make sure you, and therefore they, are able to identify and own their emotions, communicate effectively in a variety of human relationships, stand up for themselves, and follow as well as lead.

And make sure they know how to be silly and how to relax, as well as how to focus and strive. Equally important for the flexible, resilient beings our society is likely to need in years to come smile

Let them try new things. Try new things with them, or even without them. Have lots of reading material of all sorts, and discussions, and music, in the house.

Trust them.

Elibean Sat 09-Nov-13 14:08:07

And I do agree with Teacher. Start with the individual child, and listen/look very carefully at what they are telling you they need.

morethanpotatoprints Sat 09-Nov-13 14:13:47

Save your money for something better OP and when your dc get to 18 they should be paying their own way through uni to doctoral level, otherwise they will be the same with money as you say you were with sitting exams.
You can't really plan all this, well at least not expect their education to go to your plan. If you are not careful and think this through too much, you will become obsessed and then when your dc don't do what you have planned you will become controlling. From that point onwards you are losing your relationship with your dc.
Seen it too many times. smile

morethanpotatoprints Sat 09-Nov-13 14:16:17


WTF is wrong with being a train driver? confused

peteneras Sat 09-Nov-13 14:37:03

And what the fuck are you talking about morethan? Where did I say there's anything wrong with train drivers?

enderwoman Sat 09-Nov-13 14:45:57

I went to a school that was top 10 in the national league tables and onto a RG uni (so I'm guessing the sort of thing that you're planning for your dc)

Obviously qualifications are important but I wouldn't say that it was the best education money can buy. To me, the best education that money can buy is one tailored to your child's interests and personality. So if my child had a thing about animals they could learn how to charm snakes in India, if they were sporty Id get a Hollywood stuntman to teach them how to move like a ninja or if they were musical they'd be could learn whatever unusual instruments that they fancied rather than the mainstream ones.

The only people who I know who will follow regimented educational plans are like the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge where all sons have to attend Eton or wherever.

Mutteroo Sat 09-Nov-13 15:21:39

You've had some good advise but can I offer one more little bit. Please take the pressure off yourself & stop the planning! I've been guilty of over-parenting which has been fine for my DS but not so good for his sister. Go with the flow, pay if you can afford it when you need to & don't feel you have to give them all opportunities. Let them explore some for themselves & they will grow up to be happy healthy adults (hopefully).

Newbizmum Sat 09-Nov-13 17:07:04

Nothing wrong with planning to have the funds to be able to make the choices should the opportunity present itself. Ignore the naysayers who need an excuse to spend their income on frivolities and then console themselves in later life that they never had the opportunity to pay such sums.

Do not worry, in the dark of the night, they too wish they did things differently, when little Jonnie's future looks more like bus driver than astronaut.

TheArticFunky Sat 09-Nov-13 17:17:53

All you can do is provide support and encourage their interests. Children are not little projects they are individuals and if they feel they are being pushed in one direction they will probably go in the other. Ds1 is completely different to me academically his strengths were my weaknesses and vice versa.

Success and happiness doesn't always follow a straight line. Some of the most successful and qualified people I know flunked their exams. Sometimes you have to fail in order to succeed.

cory Sat 09-Nov-13 18:21:43

Newbizmum, some of us are the teachers at the RG universities. We are the ones that have to deal with offspring who have very little aptitude for the path their parents have encouraged them into, with students who are devastated at the thought of being unable to live up to expectation, with students who resort to plagiarism or fall into depression because they are so shamed when they find cannot be what their ambitious and intelligent parents thought any child of theirs must be. And they are youngsters who might have done perfectly well and been happy elsewhere.

For my own children, I would wish that they develop the courage to see where their own talents and their own desires lie and try for that- whether that means Oxbridge or RADA or an apprenticeship with a local bricklayer.

If I lie awake at night a thought that is more likely to occur to me is "please do not let my child be the one who is sobbing his heart out in front of the academic integrity officer because he felt obliged to take a path that was not right for him just to live up to my expectations".

cory Sat 09-Nov-13 18:33:41

This is absolutely not to say that you should not be saving money for his future, OP. It's a lovely thing to do and nothing more natural than that you should wish to do it.

Just that child-rearing involves a kind of involvement that is far more active, far more flexible, far more able to see the real child and make the right choices at any one time for that child as an individual. It is the opposite of laziness: so far from making a decision once and for all, you will be making hundreds of little decisions: about secondary education, about extra tuition or no extra tuition, about extra-curricular activities, holiday activities, days out that may stimulate a particular interest etc etc.

You will be able to see that while some activities are lovely and worth doing in their own right, they are unlikely to have an educational value for your particular child (even if they might have for somebody else):L a child with two left feet doesn't need sports tuition at the same level as a potential Olympics contender. On the other hand, you may find that your child has a talent or an interest where putting extra money in makes educational sense: for a child with linguistic ability a year abroad could make a huge difference career-wise.

But you don't get to decide in advance whether your child will be the great entrepreneur of the next generation or the next Kiri te Kanawa. It's a gradual process.

When you choose a primary school, you choose a school that seems right for your child's personality and needs then. When you come to secondary education, and particularly Sixth Form, you will be dealing with a child who is half way to being a grown-up with ideas of his or her own, so it is very much going to be a discussion between you.

When you get to HE, your child will be an adult and will not be bound by any decisions you made about your child, so again that flexibility will be required: is this money best spent on university fees or maybe he needs money to start a business or maybe there is something else.

TheArticFunky Sat 09-Nov-13 18:37:34

Very good post Cory.

NumptyNameChange Sat 09-Nov-13 18:52:58

blimey - i think i'd rather be sent to state school and given the £200k i'd saved my parents in education fees to invest.

NumptyNameChange Sat 09-Nov-13 18:59:25

i mean seriously - if you invested those fees year on year in a portfolio for your children imagine how much money they'd have at the end?

it also makes clear what a joke the idea of social mobility is when some people are getting a 200k leg up before they even enter work.

SlicedLemon Sat 09-Nov-13 19:09:14

Its the additional things that real life just brings their way that are educational without actually sitting them down to be educated.

There are many surveys etc that show children that develop a natural passion for reading - are more intellectual, get better results, better vocab, grammar etc. Its not always reading high brow stuff either. Dont force what is deemed edcuational/suitably stretching on them but let them develop a passion for reading themselves. They have to like and be enthusiastic about what they read to develop a passion. Giving them material you deem suitable but they dont love will do more damage than good and possibly turn them off. That said there is a definate place for guidance.

DD2 reads endlessly we have to drag her away from books. At age 10/11 she developed a passion for crime fiction and read all the Agatha Christie books. In between, she would occassionally dig out an old Jacqueline Wilson (aimed at younger than age 10) book just for fun. people frowned and said she should not reverts etc. It did no harm. She had a passion for it. DD2 is flying academically. Her vocab in everyday use is way above her reasonably bright (grade a) 15yo sister(DD1) who has never enjoyed reading much. Lots of teacher believe and have said DD2's academic skills have been boosted by her passion for reading and books.

Another everyday factor is access to news and current affairs. Again DD2 reads the papers. She watches to news and asks me questions I cannot always answer. This too has been commented on by teaching staff and in educational articles about boosting intellect.

Its not all about class room teaching althlough it has to be said a shit school with shit staff/teaching will rarely boost or bring on any enthusiasm for learning or school.

marriedinwhiteisback Sat 09-Nov-13 19:19:03

My DH went to the local comp and feels every penny spent on the DC's education has been worth it. Our only regret is trying to be principled and sending dd to what we thought was an outstanding comp because there were options here for girls and it was a very sought after school. Now that was a mistake - big time. I think a lot depends on where you live tbh.

MaeMobley Sat 09-Nov-13 19:48:22

OP, I am interested by the fact that you do not mention your parents and their role in your education.

How involved were they?

I think you are right to save for the most expensive options; it strikes me as prudent. But I think your support, attitude are much more important than buying what is perceived as the best.

tiggytape Sat 09-Nov-13 22:51:40

If you are asking how to draw a between 2013 and some point 23 years into the future when the last DC gains a doctorate from Oxford then life is just not like that. It is impossible to do.
Planning your finances to make it a option is different.

Whatever path they choose will be no doubt helped by extracurricular activities and be being able to attend schools that suit their needs and abilities. All the rest though is down to them and how they grow, what they're good at, what motivates them, how much effort they are prepared to make, how they respond to schooling..... so many factors in fact that it would be impossible to plan even for guaranteed GCSE outcomes let alone doctorates for 2 children.

The one part of your unconventional path that will still determine outcomes for those on the more conventional route is motivation and determination. The answer to how to get a child a doctorate from a RG University is to have a child who really wants to go to a RG University and study to PhD level.

tiggytape Sat 09-Nov-13 23:00:11

meant to add: I don't have a PhD but did attend a RG University and the people who did well were the people who really wanted to be there. Those who saw it as a fantastic opportunity and were passionate about their subject.
The people who left or did less well were the ones who had been dragged through A Levels that they hadn't enjoyed much and all but dumped on the doorstep by their parents on the first day of term. There were a few who just had no interest at all and were only there to please their families - obviously that desire only took them so far.

I think this experience has left me leaning the other way. Both of my DC's already know what they want to study at university (I expect it to change a million times between now and then of course) but I always remind them that they don't have to go at all. That there are other options including entering tertiary education much later in life or pursuing other avenues entirely.

NumptyNameChange Sun 10-Nov-13 07:00:31

joking aside i really think you need to look into what is motivating all of this compulsive planning and need to give the absolute best of everything and the focus on education being all.

if we just do the opposite of what our parents did, or just give what we wish we'd had for example without a lot of thought it is still not our authentic parenting but reactive rather than progressive.

your children's needs will be different to your own and you need to be sure you've dealt with your unresolved needs for yourself/with yourself/with a therapist etc rather than project them onto your children and try and rewrite stuff on that slate. i'm not being very clear but this is def meant well and not a dig. i think you need to resolve your own disappointments and hurts from childhood in yourself rather than in your children.

mirtzapine Sun 10-Nov-13 08:11:00

There is a very interesting omission in all of the posts. No-one is admitting to micro-managing or "everything" planning, which I feel is that a lot of you assume I intend to do.

Yet at the school gates I meets loads of parents who are going; "Bajit IS going to be a Barrister", "D'nisha WILL be a Doctor", "Yosep IS going to be an accountant", "Sophie WILL be a vet" and then go on about it.

I'm left thinking "are we going wrong somewhere", or am I falling foul of the school gate bullshittery and cock measuring. I suspect now the latter after reading your posts.

I have no doubt that my dd's will change path and tack over the years and I see no shame in discovering a career in later life. I'm interested in how to give the grounding, nurture, support and guidance so that dd's can achieve what ever they want to achieve.

Money is only part of it, although an important part which will allow them to try things, discover things and let them be exposed to things that they otherwise wouldn't encounter. Given the changes that are undergoing higher education, I feel that I should prepare now to financially support them then. Given that the halcyon days when I attended university on a full grant and tuition fees are long gone.

Rentahoose Sun 10-Nov-13 08:19:46

I went to a state comprehensive. I am Oxbridge educated. I have two degrees. I've never had a high-flying career. I've worked a series of mediocre jobs I've not enjoyed. Part-time administrator now and the best job I've ever had.

evertonmint Sun 10-Nov-13 08:42:29

I think you have a particularly terrible school gate. I don't know any parents who have these sorts of conversations. However I do know parents who might have certain expectations for their DCs but then realise they need to revise these to fit in with who their children actually are; I know none who bend the will of the child to fit in with their plans.

lljkk Sun 10-Nov-13 08:51:13

at the school gates I meets loads of parents who are going; "Bajit IS going to be a Barrister"

Wow. Must be the people you mix with, then! You're already in an elite group.
I hear
"Amy loves art."
"Dan's English is very good."
"I just hope Tor gets any GCSEs."
"I accept that my boys are going to get in trouble with the police like I did" (chat with police officer who comes as a parent to our toddler groups; the cop uses a teen from same family as a babysitter so not too worried, methinks).

marriedinwhiteisback Sun 10-Nov-13 08:58:23

I do know a parent who sent her ds to the best, best pre-prep to get into the best best prep which fed into a school that's often No 1 on the UK Indy league tables. She had it all planned OP. She argued with the head over the lad going to the best best prep and refused to accept advice because that would get him into the best best indy and that would mean he would have a better crack at Oxbridge and more chance of earning the equivalent of 100K.

The only problem was that when the lad got there at 7 years old he was working two or three hours on top of school with a tutor too just to keep up and barely did that. He was deeply unhappy and bullied and struggling and after a year the school gently suggested that they needed to find another school for him.

Parental ambitions can be rather sad I think.

SanityClause Sun 10-Nov-13 08:59:36

I have heard one or two parents say what they want their DC to be. Mostly, the parents I speak to talk about what their DC want, and what they are interested in.

For example, I was chatting to a mother last week, whose DD loves sciences and physical Geography. This woman knows someone who works in the petro-chemical industry, so she was going to ask the woman to speak to her DD, to perhaps give her an idea of where her love of geography could lead, and how to get there.

I have a 12 yo DD who wants to be a vet. I am going with her next week to start to do voluntary work at an animal rescue centre. She can't go alone, as their insurance wouldn't cover her without me there. So, despite mucking out animals being about the least exciting thing I can think of, this is how I will support my child in her dream.

happygardening Sun 10-Nov-13 09:00:23

We have tried to encourage both our children to be renaissance men so from an early age have exposed them informally to a huge variety of things. We've not tried to micro manage this we're just let it happen, both of us love classical music my DH in particular loves 18 th century organ music (groan) and opera so the children have always heard it and I thought hated it. We were talking the other day about seeing Don Giovani next yr and both spontaneously said they wanted to come, we regularly visit museums/art exhibitions both were taken as small children one in particular remains very keen on art the other is surprisingly knowledgable even if he claims to be uninterested if you live in London it's so easy and you can just drop in for a short while. Politics is big in our house a source of frequent discussion, as are other subjects; the global economy, homophobia etc. we don't plan any of this or for that matter want our children to have our views, racism homophobia etc aside, it's just part of our and their lives. Sporting opportunities are the same I used to ride and compete seriously we used to own a pony (which spent most of its time being ignored) DH sails a bit both children have ridden and sailed, DH wind surfs canoes ditto, with friends they water skied, rock climbed, etc nothing planned just opportunities which are/were their at various times in there lives. Don't over plan your life, be flexible, so when someone calls and asks your DD's if they like to come sailing this afternoon your more likely to be able to say yes please. We rarely book things more that two weeks in advance our children are now older teens but when little we didn't formally book activities morning noon and night. You DC's also need time to just sit and get pleasure from sitting and watching the world go by, to laugh at TV or films books, tell jokes, go to the park and play on the swings walk the dog and learn to do nothing just be.
The one thing you can try and do is to encourage your children to try something new, not too close of something before giving it a go be it art, music, poetry, literature a subject at school they wouldn't normally chose, sport etc. This IMO is the best piece of advise you can give you DD"s and it's free! They will then get more out of life in general even if they end up flipping burgers.

schoolnurse Sun 10-Nov-13 09:15:12

Many of our friends over the years have said Henry (sometimes as young as 5 yrs old) wants to be a barrister doctor etc although I've noticed Henry doesn't always say this! I've talked to quite a few parents who've already taken Charles (11 yrs old) to their Oxford College and said this is where you'll go when you leave school.
Thee is nothing wrong with encouraging our children to aim high but I talk to children away from their parents who are stressed and anxious and afraid to say to their parents that they don't want to go to heir fathers Oxbridge College, or study medicine.
On the radio this morning there's a report saying that children from affluent backgrounds suffer higher levels of neurosis e.g. DSH, anorexia etc because of the high expectations of their parents and lives.

tiggytape Sun 10-Nov-13 09:18:59

*at the school gates I meets loads of parents who are going; "Bajit IS going to be a Barrister, "D'nisha WILL be a Doctor"

I assume your children are primary school age if the 23 year plan is to fit. At this age children still 'belong' to their parents to a great extent and the parents will only have seen their child in the context of relatively few other people and usually a small school. Some parents have set ideas about which careers are worthwhile and are able to persuade children of this age to follow their way of thinking.

At secondary age there is no school gate so that pressure eases off. The child is generally less compliant (i.e. determined not to be a doctor if it means having to study Chemistry for one second longer than necessary or having to put in the hours to get straight A's). They are in a year group with many more people and set for subjects. The top dogs at primary school find they aren't always top at everything afterall. They come to see their genuine strengths and weaknesses and not just their parent's assessment of these. Mainly it all shakes down and works itself out at this stage but a few parents manage to retain their input and it is often their children that can end up 2 years into a degree that they've no intention of finishing let alone using.

schoolnurse Sun 10-Nov-13 09:38:07

tiggy Im finding that although the school gate pressure has gone at senior school, parental pressure is still there in fact in many cases more so, as is pressure from schools themselves many are very obsessed about the position in the league table. Many children find it hard to go against parental/peer/school expectation. I've found a bit about the research concerning high incidence of neurosis in children from wealthy homes if someone tells me how to link it in on here I will do it if anyone is interested.

satine Sun 10-Nov-13 09:51:22

I visited lots of schools until I found the one that simply felt right. As it turned out, that was an independent prep school with a really magical pre-school, but had it been the local state primary, we would have chosen that. The prep school we chose was the one with the happiest atmosphere, the one where the children seemed to be enjoying themselves (we did see several where the children looked pretty grey and grim, tbh) and where the extra-curricular stuff on offer was exciting and different. Lots of lessons outside, lots of chances to climb trees, play conkers and be children for as long as possible.
Now we're choosing the next school on the same basis and, sad to say for our poor bank balance, the best school is another public one. But not top flight in price.
So basically, what I'm saying is visit as many schools as you possibly can, speak to everyone you know with children to get their honest opinion and then go with your instinct.
And remember - NO school is going to be perfect. There will always be niggles and irritations, but as long as you can discuss these with the teacher/headteacher, they can usually be resolved.

Ecuador Sun 10-Nov-13 09:52:41

OP I can promise you from the bottom of my heart that I've never ever micro-managed or planned my children's future. They are at fee-paying school and that is all I'm thinking about now, what they do after that is anyone's guess.

I would absolutely loathe to be surrounded by people saying that little Jimmy is going to be a barrister, doctor, accountant whatever - how grim to be mapping their lives out for them like that. I would imagine that it must be quite exhausting for both the parents and children of such ambition and expectation.

If mine go on to be ballet dancers, bank clerks or end up throwing pots in Cornwall I will be happy as long as they are happy and can support themselves relatively well.

Wuldric Sun 10-Nov-13 10:00:09

OP you are optimistic to the point of being entirely unrealistic.

You will not have that degree of influence over your children's lives that you can determine that they will do phds. Nor should you have. There is no earthly point in a phd unless you are planning for your kids to be academics.

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately (given my track record on decision-making) my kids will make their own minds up and it will be my role to support and enable them as best I can.

Mine are in good schools but DD is workshy and will not achieve the grades that she is capable of. I have begged, bullied, cajoled and even got her a supplementary tutor, but she will not achieve her target of 11 A*. Because she just cba. Frustrating, but true. You have to work with the material you have. Going to an academic school does enable academic children, but if you have a child who won't work, there is very little you can do about it.

I studied law at university and you could really tell the ones who were doing it because their parents thought it was a good idea. The lucky ones managed to switch course.

mirtzapine Sun 10-Nov-13 12:13:28

So given that the general consensus is, don't plan anything, let them find their own way and all education levels out in the end.

Cool, I can point DW at this thread as justification for paying for a three week holiday on the barrier reef and the 6.8 ltr Chevrolet Corvette fancied for a long while.

Sadly, I'm sure she would see through the spin you are putting on what was said in order to justify the gas guzzler!

On a serious note, I see the point of spending on education (both formal and informal) to give your children choices. It would all be a bit meaningless if I then took the choices away from them and steered them towards my preference.

NumptyNameChange Sun 10-Nov-13 12:49:52

i'd spend it on a spelling course and some better antidepressants. mirtazapine will have you pile on so much weight you'll need that gas guzzler to drag your arse around.

lljkk Sun 10-Nov-13 13:28:48

I didn't think consensus was "don't plan anything." More like "the best laid plans can easily go awry so only plan one step at a time and don't be surprised if even that goes a bit pear-shaped."

teacherwith2kids Sun 10-Nov-13 14:06:06

Agree with lijkk - rather than have 'A Fixed Grand Plan of Everything', have a 'best fit for your children' plan for the stage imediately in front of you, a provisional 'general possible direction' plan for the next stage.... and a 'if it all goes pear shaped contingency' plan at all times!

teacherwith2kids Sun 10-Nov-13 14:09:20

(Having money to throw at the problem if needed is a pretty good contingency plan option, btw. We are absolutely vehemently opposed to private schooling, and where we live it is of poorer quality than the state options anyway. But knowing that, in the case of total disaster, emerging special need or similar unforseen cuircumstance, we could buy education, extra-curricular activities or educational help in the short term at least is a comfort to me!)

IAlwaysThought Sun 10-Nov-13 14:15:41

A trip to The Great Barrier Reef is an education in itself grin

mindgone Sun 10-Nov-13 16:23:00

I think that one of the best ways I have helped my children's education has been being a stay at home mum (mostly). It gives so much more time and energy to them. It's helpful to be near really good state schools however.
I am actually curious to know which are the 4 acceptable RG universities too! My DS is applying at the moment, and I'm just wondering whether he has applied to any of them!

grovel Sun 10-Nov-13 17:14:02

Durham, Bristol, Exeter, York.

LondonMother Sun 10-Nov-13 17:19:36

Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial, UCL. Nothing like aiming high, I suppose!

lljkk Sun 10-Nov-13 20:37:08

Best Dept. depends what subject you study.
I bet none of the named institutions are the best places to get qualified in horse physiotherapy (e.g.).

mindgone Sun 10-Nov-13 21:13:01

I think DS is stuffed! [big grin]

mindgone Sun 10-Nov-13 21:13:50


losingtrust Sun 10-Nov-13 22:46:39

It is true that some parents have told their kids what they will be. My meighbour's little girl has been told all her life she will be a doctor. Shame as the little girl is really good at art. My ds wants to be a politician. I have told him that if he wants to do that really he needs to do PPE at Oxford. He is not the most hard working kid in the World though so it depends how much he wants it. Dd wants to be a singer and I have tried to encourage her in other areas as well because she is tone deaf!

NumptyNameChange Mon 11-Nov-13 06:03:33

agree with whoever said best uni depends on what you want to study - if the aim is to get the best education rather than the best bit of status that is.

Minifingers Mon 11-Nov-13 10:28:37


Or you could be really lucky and have a really bright dc like mine, who shone in primary and ever since has stuck two metaphorical fingers up at me, the education system, and the world, and for whom my hopes have now been whittled down from imagining an amazing career for her to simply wanting her not to be excluded from school, not to get into trouble with the law, and her staying un-pregnant until she's 18.

cory Tue 12-Nov-13 07:51:55

On a more positive note, if I had money to spare this is what I'd do:

i) spend substantial sums on an interesting and educational home environment - this would include books and trips to the theatre for me and interesting outings for dhas well as quality children's books and toys. If I had an instrument I would play it, if I had an outside hobby I would cultivate it.

I would be working on the assumption that a household where everybody enjoyed learning would be likely to provide the best intellectual environment.

ii) look round for a generally all-round excellent primary school.

I would not primarily be thinking about private or state here: I would look at individual schools. The school I would hope to find would be well run by a head I trusted, the discipline would be good without being stifling, the children would look as if they genuinely enjoyed learning and enjoyed being busy, the school would be good at communicating with parents and their pastoral care system would be thought-out and practical.

iii) introduce dc to a range of possible hobbies and interests to stimulate their minds and stretch them sideways.

I would set particular store by activities that require a certain amount of discipline- such as learning an instrument or ballet dancing or studying a foreign language- but which also have a social and/or imaginative aspect. I would make sure there was enough on offer to let dc find something s/he enjoyed as an individual.

iv) keep money aside in case dc eventually showed a specific or unusual talent beyond what the school could supply.

To be able to say at a later date, "yes I can see that you need to work at a much higher level and the money's there for that: you can have lessons from the maestro or the Olympic coach or whatever"; "yes, you can spend the summer in a Russian family to become really fluent in Russian", "yes you can take part in the residential biology course".

v) make interesting trips and outings as a family

Shared memories and active holidays can be a great way of encouraging learning.

vi) when it came to secondaries/Sixth form I would discuss the choice very clearly with the dc and make sure our choice answered to their dreams and interests as well as my natural desire for overall academic quality.

No, dc, you can't decide all on your own to go to lax-standard school because you like their uniform, but equally I can't decide all on my own that you are not to go to the school with the extended science programme because I have already decided you are going to study economics.

vii) keep money aside for educational travel/interviews/auditions/summer programmes/unusual work experience/university visits etc at secondary/Sixth Form level.

This, I find, is where it becomes both expensive and important.

viii) I would then ideally have a substantial sum of money to help them start in the world, but I would be very flexible about how it is spent.

One dc might need help with paying for university accommodation/books/food, another dc might decide to start a business (two close relatives of mine have done this instead of going to uni and have both been very successful), a third may need to travel to perfect skills before uni, a fourth may need a deposit on a flat, a fifth may need private education that comes more expensive than even university.

cory Tue 12-Nov-13 08:04:48

This is how it panned out in our family of four (parents academic, one parent very musical and with musical ambitions for her children):

i) eldest child turned out to be less academically gifted than expected. He struggled and was very unhappy with parental expectations for many years but eventually found his own path through a manual job which enabled him to work his way up. He is now comfortably off and happy in a career his parents would never have thought of and which could not have been accessed through the education they had in mind for him. But his self esteem is not the best.

The money that turned out to be useful here was partly shared family memories (always good) and partly money for practical stuff like deposit on house.

ii) second child turned out to be academically gifted and interested in pretty well the ways expected.

Money spent on extra-curricular learning and residentials was welcome and useful for future career. Though to be fair, future career has not been particularly glamorous or remunerative.

iii) third child both musically and academically gifted. Worked hard on musical career, showed talent, and then suddenly had to give up due to unsuspected minor disability.

He wouldn't say that money was wasted- but it didn't lead to the expected result either. Money spent on his academic development (foreign language trips) came in handy for a Plan B.

iv) left university after one term and set up own business in a field parents would never have thought of. Easily the most successful family member from a financial pov and as far as I know happy with his choices.

The money that came in handy was not money that was spent on his formal education/musical instruments etc but money he was able to make by selling said items to buy what he realised was important instead. But again- shared family memories no doubt of lasting value.

wordfactory Tue 12-Nov-13 08:35:33

OP, you were alwaysbound to get a hard time here on MN grin.

The accepted orthodoxy here is that DC should be left to find their own way, that parents should want nothig more than their offspring to be happy.

It is a rather delicious mixture of hypocrisy, arrogance and complacancy wink.

However in RL, (and here on MN) there are plenty of parents who plan consciously for their DC's future. This does not mean we map it out, but that we ensure that every opportunity is given to our DC and that every door remains invitingly wide open.

It's all about ensuring your DC have choices. Meaningful choices.

mirtzapine Tue 12-Nov-13 13:08:24

Thank you cory for that well though-out and written piece. Much of what you said as guideline plan, is what we are already doing. If the dd's turn out the way yours have done I'd be more than content and happy.

My secret hope is that they would have the entrepreneurial flair that I never had and the gumption to make it happen. Or that they are open minded and enquiring with the aim that they get the grounding necessary to make the world their oyster. Both of those aspects, I think, would benefit from a bloody good education which would be an aid on their chosen paths.

wordfactory, I didn't think I'd got a particularly hard time, there was the odd pointless bitchy comment which says more about the poster, than anything. There were many valid points, I feel that my OP was taken more literally than I expected. It was only intended to express a concept, an idealization, a notion that over time as a parent I would have certain responsibilities and duties to perform, in regards to my children. Provisioning for education being one of them. Just in the same way I could take the data for the national shopping basket and cost of living increases over the past 25 years and map them, linearly, over the next 25 years. If I stuck to that plan I'd probably starve my family to death within three years.

SthingMustBeScaringThemAway Tue 12-Nov-13 13:28:25

<Desperately hoping first post didn't read as "pointlessly bitchy....>

I didn't elaborate but I do strongly believe what I said about an element of struggle kind of helping things along and perhaps makes the journey sweeter.

When I think back to the stories my parents told of their childhoods and youth - very different to each other but similar in taking a leap in the dark - I always feel a complete failure. They gave me the full benefit of their wisdom, hard work and adventurous spirit; and the best education they could earn. But I've never emigrated, by myself, to an unknown country, never studied for a degree in middle age, never inspired countless people to strive harder. Because I didn't need to. And I know absolutely, now, that their lives have been finer than mine.

But of course, one can't impose artificial struggle.

wordfactory Tue 12-Nov-13 13:33:26

OP, I was reading an interview with Peter Jones in the Sunday Times this weekend, and he said something I'm conviced to be true; entrepreneurs are not born, they are made.

Business is a skill and can be taught.

And of course, like anyhting else in life, some people will have more natural apitude than others.

However, most people never come even close to finding out if they have any aptitude! Business is seen as something that other people do.

Consequently, I think one of the best things you can do for your DC is give them a good grounding in economics, finance and how money works and grows.

mirtzapine Tue 12-Nov-13 15:07:52

Well put wordfactory, donkey's years ago I did a HND in Business and Finance after my degree. I won a prestigious national award from a High Street bank in Entrepreneurialism, I wrote a wonderful business plan to take a beachside cafe into being an European wide franchised chain. Wow, big pat on the back there, am I entrepreneurial? Not in the slightest.

To paraphrase von Molke, "No plan survives first contact..." whether its a business plan, a project plan or some trite design for my dd's lives based on hubris. My idealised notion of what I would like for them, isn't going to pass the first test. Thing is (and I already knew this when I wrote my OP), that plans only work, if they are revised, modified and adjusted to fit as time goes by.

'S'kay, SthingMustBeScaringThemAway, It wasn't alluding to you. Actually there was only one bitchy comment, which stood out like a sore thumb and was a bit boggling. I do agree that there needs to be some form of struggle that presents itself as a challenge. I hope the dd's get that, something that makes them determined to succeed.

NumptyNameChange Tue 12-Nov-13 15:52:24

i think you mean mine mirt. your comment preceding mine made me think this was a by stealth thread re: posting your partners views, getting us all to disagree and then using it as evidence you were right. apologies for getting that wrong.

i am baffled by the choice of a mispelling of an antidepressant as a username though.

happygardening Tue 12-Nov-13 18:49:47

I sort of agree entrepreneurs are made not born but IME some people are natural risk takers and others risk adverse and that it is hard to overcome risk adverseness. To be a successful entrepreneur amongst other things you need need to be a risk taker.

losingtrust Tue 12-Nov-13 19:37:25

Completely agree Happy.

wordfactory Tue 12-Nov-13 19:39:52

I agree that many people are risk averse. In fact, I suspect ^most6 people are.

I wonder though, how much of this is a natural state of affairs for humans to protect themselves, and how much is people often not understanding the risks involved and thus often over thinking them?

losingtrust Tue 12-Nov-13 19:50:11

I am starting a little business on the side as an education for the DCs. I suspect Dd will be more into it than DS but it is part of their education to learn about money. I had one business that struggled and learnt more from that than any other job or any part of my degree apart from economics which is a basic. It will also give them some work experience and show them that despite all the exam passes in the World to get on in life you need to be able to muck in. Who know what they will do with it but the experience should help in most carers.

losingtrust Tue 12-Nov-13 19:53:02

My dad persuaded me to work on his chicken selling run every Sat. Not the most glamorous part-time job but it gave me a good start at 15 and a bit of money in the pocket at sixth form. Any work experience will help.

summerends Tue 12-Nov-13 20:58:09

Just caught up with this thread, some interesting perspectives and I also thought corey's post was great, particularly with the longterm view. I suppose education and home life ideally open up possibilities together with supplying memories (hopefully good) and friendships. However to optimise chances of happiness and productivity longterm, installing resilience and flexibility (without damaging self esteem) must be valuable . How do others approach that and how much is actually under our control as parents?

cory Wed 13-Nov-13 09:11:39

I have known people who were very unhappy because they were pushed into careers which did not match their natural abilities. Academics who hated teaching for instance. Or business people who did not have that natural risk taking characteristic. Or (lower down the scale) carpenters with two left hands.

Yes, you can be taught things but if you always do them less well than the people around you who have a natural flair, it is going to dent your self confidence. (and also be very irritating for your boss)

The reason my own sibling group have ended up so happy is that we are all doing things that we naturally do rather well.

I am a good teacher, I can go to work happily in the knowledge that if I only put in the right effort I will be doing a good day's work. I would be a hopeless business woman because I am not a risk taker and bloody hopeless not naturally comfortable with figures. I would work hard because I am that sort of person, but I would probably be the kind of person who ended up losing vital contracts because I did not see the possibilities.

My db otoh who started the business would have been very unhappy in any kind of academic career as he loathes having to explain things. He is not good at it and he absolutely does not enjoy it. He would probably also be unhappy in a business career of the type where you have to make presentations and engage closely with clients. He has done well because he has found himself a niche where he does not have to do that, but where his natural flair for business and opportunities as well as his talent for technological inventions come into their own.

Ubik1 Wed 13-Nov-13 09:23:38

It's tough for kids these days. All these expectations. Ticking boxes, performing so that adults can feel good about themselves.

Just send them to a decent school and support them and love them.

mirtzapine Wed 13-Nov-13 10:24:44

The expectations are equally on the parents, we are expected to send them to "decent" schools, and the expectation to support them and just how do we meet these expectations? I'd like my children to get an education better than my own, I would like to have an expectation that educational standards have risen from my day.

"Just" sending them is one thing, but you're missed out something that's more important. Hope, hope for a better future, hope, that by giving them a leg up early on with education we will give them that better future. Hope that by encouraging them to explore things via education they will find a path in life. Hope that it will give them the confidence to not be afraid of trying and challenging.

But, bear this one thing in mind. There is little that I can control in life, I won't be able to control how my DD's respond to an education, I won't be able to control their life choices (some I'll disprove of but I'll keep that to myself). But, I can give them access to the best education possible - what that is I'm not sure of - and hope that they will make use of it.

wordfactory Wed 13-Nov-13 11:19:35

cory I agree t that pushing Dc in the wrong direction is wrong. But no one is suggesting that. Rather we are advocating opening pathways and the same way that we might introduce our DC to music and sport, why not business and economics?

aciddrops Wed 13-Nov-13 11:40:16

Don't you think its better to provide for doctoral level, even if they don't use it. Than them wanting to go that far and I can't provide!

Can someone tell me what the point of having a PHD is? I understand it helps if you want to be a university lecturer but apart from that, is one demonstrably beneficial to have?

I do not understand the life plan you make for your kids. Don't you want to see what they are good at first? I don't think you should have such fixed aims for them.

wordfactory Wed 13-Nov-13 11:43:39

summer it is my firm belief that resilience and Flexibilty are two of the most important factors in leading a successful life. Too few people exhibit those characteeristics. But how to instil them? First, lead from the front. Show your DC how resilient and flexible you are. Let them see you getting out of your comfort zone. Second, let your DC experience failure. Too many parents try to protect their DC from any and all disappointment. Third, let your DC experience hard graft. A child's life doesn't have to be a non stop glitter fest of fun and magic. Hard graft never killed anyone. Fourth, teach your kids to laugh at themselves. People who take themselves too seriously will always find change difficult.

mirtzapine Wed 13-Nov-13 12:16:56

There are many jobs where PhD would be beneficial.
Policy advisor to the WHO, Analyst at the European Commission on Human Rights and Democracy, Quantitative Analyst, Scientist for Pharmaceuticals, Bio-technology, Field Archaeologist for the British Museum. There is quite a long list.

My first ever Boss has three Phd's because he wanted to work for NASA as an astronomer and he did before becoming the MD of the R&D arm of a technology company.

And as for business and Economics, DD1 has already tried that at 6, she'd seen a cartoon where they had a Lemonade Stand (y'know the American thing). So she set about making the lemonade, she and her four year old sister set up a little table, with glasses and a bowl and tried to sell her lemonade to passers by. Of course no one wanted to buy it, this being the UK and all and we don't have that tradition. Her little hopes were dashed, but a couple of weeks later she bounced back and had another try.

Again, there is no fixed goal, just a general provision that encompasses a broad spectrum.

summerends Wed 13-Nov-13 16:06:28

Thanks Word, definitely think last one is very important.
There is a balance between persistence (hard work towards a set objective) and flexibility ie try another path or acquire a different skill set.
Striking the right balance must be a matter of instinct or good judgement which is also an important skill to acquire?

aciddrops Thu 14-Nov-13 08:02:48

Yet at the school gates I meets loads of parents who are going; "Bajit IS going to be a Barrister", "D'nisha WILL be a Doctor", "Yosep IS going to be an accountant", "Sophie WILL be a vet" and then go on about it.

When bajit and D'nisha have a nervous breakdown at the age of 19 you will see how their ridiculous snobby parents have damaged them.

wordfactory Thu 14-Nov-13 08:32:19

Oh acid whilst that's a slight risk, it really isn't that much of a problem. More middle class angst.

It's funny how if you're very poor and your parents do everything in their power to propel you out of poverty and into the middle classes, they're never seen as too pushy or damaging. They're legends.

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