Ivy Babies: Preparing for Academic Excellence
By Dave Berry
This article is mainly for parents but, if you're like most intrepid teens, you'll probably want to stick your nose in here at least a little bit. We're going to talk about children. You're one of those, you know. There'll be some "developmental" stuff that you might find boring, but there will also be some hints about temperament and personality types. You might find that interesting. On the other hand, if you want to do a skim, that's fine too. Your parents will probably try to discuss this with you anyhow. Look at it this way: If you read this before they do, when they want to discuss it, you'll once again come off looking as though you know more than they do. Now, back to addressing parents.
We're talking here about observing your kids from about the age of three on. Your situation may be slightly different, though, wherein you'll be able to relate to these issues while your son or daughter is younger. In general, though, three is the age where patterns begin to manifest and an alert parent-primed by the stellar wisdom from these pages-can start to intuit the key indicators of youthful potential. "Ivy Babies" actually means, "kids with exceptional promise," those youngsters who eat challenges for lunch.
Don't Pass on Passion
Passion is the focus here-your child's passion. Passion is the key that can unlock those Ivy gates. The number of parents who have not truly discerned what their child's passion is always surprises me. Oh, sure, they know that their young ones have certain propensities or obvious talents, but few moms and dads go to the trouble to be keenly observant. The truth about a child's passion sometimes lies beneath a pile of otherwise seemingly innocuous activities. Sometimes it pays to be a journalist-detective.
Later on, I'm going to share what I call the "achievement diary" that I compiled over the years for my son. He will serve as my poster child for the tactics I suggest. It's not that I feel that John was all that exceptional in the scope of the elite-admissions universe. My experience has shown, however, that he was, in his youngest years, typical of many talented youngsters who are our so-called Ivy Babies. Unfortunately, many of these potential-laden young people don't avail themselves of every higher education opportunity simply because of the lack of advocacy, by parents, teachers, and guidance counselors. The combination of passion and potential can be powerful. It's up to us, as parents, to be alert for both elements and track them, even chronicle them as I did in John's achievement journal.
Don't misjudge the fleetness of time. Your children's formative years will pass more quickly than you can imagine. In today's manic squirrel-cage of family activities, our daily whirlwind of duties, work, stress, and search for self-meaning dominates our senses. We have to take special care to truly "see" what is going on around us in our family life. Paul Simon, in his "Sounds of Silence," wrote, "People hearing without listening." Don't let the telltale clues of your child's developmental promise slip by unnoticed. Keep a sharp eye out for what kindles the flames of his or her heart. The alliterative dictate is: Parents, perceive your progeny's passion! John's passion keyword was/is "balance." What's your child's word?
Once you know what that passion word is, you'll have taken a big step toward charting a course for their future excellence. As a concrete example of what I'm talking about here, I'll also be using John as an example of how early parental vigilance can eventually contribute to a highly successful college application process.