Photo Credit: Julian Scagliola

3 Things Keeping Your Children From Getting a Great Education

Paul Alan Aspen
6 min readJul 20, 2020


In these uncertain times, the most difficult trouble to navigate is how the shutdowns and restrictions will affect our kids. A little social and culinary privation is tolerable, and the missing work will ultimately be a speed bump for us.

But the whiplash from the day-after-day changes is frustrating for anyone who is trying to plan responsibly. When science is saying one thing, the decision-makers are often saying the opposite — and they often swap places and reverse their course.

We want what’s best for our kids. We want to be able to make a plan and get them educated so they can succeed and not be stuck in a dead-end job they hate or worse have no real options for their future.

We don’t want them to fall behind.

This Fall the public schools are no longer an option in many places, effectively holding back an entire generation. What are you supposed to do to be a good parent in this chaos?

The good news is that you are in the driver’s seat, not the circumstances or the government. You can make a plan and keep your little rising stars aimed at success. The school system isn’t going to boost them, and the government isn’t really doing much to help anyone.

You — the parent who bears full responsibility anyway and will be blamed regardless — have the authority over your kids’ education. Not the system, not the teachers, you. So what do you want? What does your little one need right now?

Since you’re making decisions and picking between options, here are three mistakes that will hold your children back, and how to avoid them:

1. Allowing school to become more important than your relationship with them

You are your kid’s hero. They watch you, they want to be like you and be with you. They learn the words you use, they watch and practice doing the things they see you doing. They’re your little monkey, your shadow. You are their best teacher, and they’ll bring their questions and problems to you…

…so long as they believe you value them. Them, not their performance. Not their grades or medals or accolades.

Nobody’s perfect, and trust sometimes gets shaken, but if you aren’t close to them you aren’t going to know how to help them learn or what their goals and dreams are for the future. How will you help them succeed if you don’t know what defines success for them?

This means that this disruption is a golden opportunity to spend time talking, playing, and exploring together. It’s a good time to ask questions and listen, to build this foundation for all other education. Be a trusted advisor as well as a protector.

An “A” on a test or report card doesn’t mean as much as having them proud to show it to you and jabber about the cool thing they learned today. The reason they are learning from their teachers is either because they want your approval for the “A” or they are excited to apply what they learn towards a goal or dream.

You can help them connect those dots.

Need some help? I’ve lined up a range of experts to listen to at my free summit, covering topics like how to stay patient with your kids, how to identify what’s really important to your child, and a showcase of an easy, productive way to build trust, confidence, and connection with your kids.

Education outside the home relies on you as a parent to be successful. You might not get paid, but a parent’s impact is worth more than a teacher’s salary. Don’t skimp on this foundation when you’re making your plans for your child’s education.

2. Prioritizing Grades or Curriculum over Exploration and Interest

Traditional schools are a pretty poor predictor of success in life. A 4.0 doesn’t mean you’ll make money and change the world. The facts and practice of school are good, but prioritizing them over passion, dedication, executive function, problem-solving skills, and exposure to real-world conditions is a recipe for frustration, anxiety, and dependency on external systems for success when they grow up and move out on their own.

Even worse, academic performance increasingly is ignored by successful companies, and I’m very happy to have an insider’s insight in the Summit by artist Eric Yi Lin, who works on the Halo series and found out that his college degree meant nothing — it all came down to his artistic skills.

Even if your child isn’t an academic achiever, hounding them to do better in school might be even worse than letting them get C’s. According to Dr. Sylvia Rimm, underachieving in school is powered by “…a feeling of a lack of personal control over their educational success. Underachievers aren’t really certain that they can achieve their goals even if they work harder. They lack self-efficacy.”

Taking away even more self-determination may well only make them give up entirely.

Let your kids’ strengths and interests determine the focus of their learning. That’s where they’ll apply themselves, and trying to fight it will just drive you out of the loop as their advisor — making it difficult to keep them safe and help them as they make important choices.

And hey — there are plenty of successful people that rejected the academic road anyway. If your kid is on that track — or you just want to know how to encourage them better — come listen to a few presentations about how to think outside the box.

3. Favoring Social Status Over Survival Skills

The purpose of education is to “shortcut” time in the real world, so that instead of gradual trial-and-error the student gets to skip the “school of the hard knocks” and jump to mastery without wasted time and trouble.

The problem is that marching to a different beat fights our herd instinct. An Ivy League degree is prestigious and lacking a college degree can make you feel ashamed in some places, inadequate or out of place. But that social status and piece of paper come with a steep cost: Ivy League degrees can cost $200,000 and your state school will be at least $40,000.

For an entrepreneur, artist, or someone interested in a specialist occupation or field, that’s a lot to front for something that might not move you any closer to the goal — and the four years is no joke either.

That’s a lot of investment if you don’t have a clear goal you’re working towards, or you aren’t certain you will get a job after finishing — and that’s if you have the cash to throw on the table. Going into debt for that questionable investment? Wouldn’t it be smarter to invest that money directly into starting a business, if that’s your interest anyway?

Common practice doesn’t always consult common sense. Don’t be a lemming, and don’t let your child run off a financial cliff either if you can help it.

Maybe your child would thrive by getting a GED and starting work earlier, or having more time to observe, learn, and practice the skill they plan to use to put food on their table.

Don’t let social pressures or “the way things are done” hold your child back if they are outside the typical box. There’s a free way to discover some great options hat can help them get ahead rather than stewing and feeling trapped in the pursuit of something they don’t care for anyway.

Come hear about other parents’ journeys outside “the box”

Register for this free summit and make a plan that fits your family’s needs right now.

This isn’t a homeschooling summit — there are plenty of those out there, but homeschooling doesn’t work for everyone.

This isn’t a diatribe against public education — public education is great at what it is good at. That just might not be best for your child.

This summit is about helping you chart a course and take the reins in these chaotic times, to be powerful instead of fearful.



Paul Alan Aspen - I help visual designers get recognized by telling stories of their skills in a way clients will understand - courses & writing services for hire