Does Your School Affect Your Earnings?

Bored Child

Does what your child do in first grade indicate what he will do the rest of his life?

There is always a long list of debate topics when it comes to parenting and education. Should mothers work or stay home? Is homeschooling better? Should the Pledge be mandatory? Why do kids need art?

The latest hot topic seems to be whether the traditional school system is preventing your children from earning what they are truly capable of. Some studies have shown that early education, the years from Pre-Kindergarten to third grade, is the most influential period of a child’s life when it comes to determining their earning potential. If, like me, you have a first-grader who thinks burping is funny and draws people with pigtails whether they are male or female, you might find this alarming.

There are also studies that suggest standardized testing is far less important than self confidence. So, even if your little genius does not have the grades or test scores to get into Harvard, having the ego to think he can get into Harvard is really more important when it comes to his future salary. Creativity is another buzzword. You want your child to be creative enough to come across as smart and employable, but not so creative that she’s weird.

On which child are all these models and studies based? You probably know a lot of kids. Are any of them exactly alike? What we seem to miss in these arguments and debates is the simple fact that what works for one child will have the exact opposite effect on another child. Some kids do well in structured environments, and other do well when they are free to explore their own whims. For some kids, a traditional public school setting with soccer practice and pancake breakfasts is exactly what they need. For others, a religious education or a homeschooling parent makes more sense and produces better outcomes.

As for salary, I am pretty sure that depends on the adult. It seems unrealistic to think that your Kindergarten class determines whether you will be making minimum wage or six figures. In fact, most early education classrooms have a beautiful mix of children who will earn lots of different salaries in their lifetimes.

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