Bringing Cumulative Advantage into Your Child’s Education

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We all value education for its potential to increase socio-economic mobility. Parents desire a bright future for their children, while young adults about to enter the workforce will be most concerned with improving their job prospects. Ultimately, society benefits from having more individuals realize their potential and make high-impact contributions.

Yet persistent inequalities stand in the way of those benefits.

Inequality tends to exacerbate over time on the principle of cumulative advantage. People with better access to resources, whether in the form of financial, social, or knowledge capital, will pull away from the pack over time. Those starting at a disadvantage face a growing mountain to climb. The gap between haves and have-nots widens.

Addressing inequality requires a societal effort and institutional changes. But on the individual level, many people can also make small steps to catch up and accrue some advantages of their own.

That starts with exploring new ways to maximize education.

Overseas opportunities

Expats are no strangers to the opportunities on offer when you take on the risk of relocating abroad. There may be hurdles, especially for migrants whose informal skills and learning aren’t recognized in a more developed country. That’s where recognition of prior learning courses comes in handy. Overall, the rewards are well worth the effort.

But what if you were to seek out overseas opportunities in education well before entering the world of employment?

Students from developing countries often pursue this route. But even within OECD, there are different tiers when it comes to education outcomes.

While the US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand are closely matched according to PISA results, they lag behind countries at the very top. Those include traditional pace-setters like Singapore but also innovators like Estonia.

Don’t limit your consideration of schools to those within your country. Neither should you overlook the potential that smaller nations might be doing better to improve their education system.

Cross-pollination in terms of knowledge, including the chance to learn a foreign language by immersion, makes this option even more attractive. If necessary, hunt for scholarship programs that can help subsidize the cost of overseas education.

Distance learning

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Taking courses online has also given students access to instruction from top institutions, even those in another country.

While your mileage may vary in terms of quality, reputable and duly accredited schools offer online programs on par with a traditional degree. And the majority of employers have valued them the same way for nearly a decade now.

That sentiment will only improve in the wake of the pandemic. Out of necessity, all stakeholders in the education system have had to dabble in distance learning.

It’s an option that must remain on the table for safety reasons soon. And it will persist beyond that, as the flaws exposed during the pandemic, such as barriers to technological access, are duly addressed.

Online learning offers real advantages beyond the convenience and safety of learning within your home. The content is delivered in a way that encourages mature learning, with students able to better engage with the material on their terms.

They build the habit of tackling low-level learning in their spare time, leading to more productive interactions in class with their teachers and peers, effectively ‘flipping the classroom.’

Even if learning in the traditional classroom setting remains the standard, taking supplementary courses online will yield incremental improvements.

Start early

How soon do you send kids to school? Around the age of five is a common answer, but some go to school before their second birthday while others delay until six or seven. This is a complex issue, with multiple factors deserving consideration.

While it’s a very personal decision, the child’s learning foundation should weigh heavy on your thinking. These formative years exert a profound influence on lifelong outcomes.

Early schooling isn’t necessarily the best way to shape those foundation years. But it might be if, for some reason, the home environment isn’t very conducive to learning.

Starting education earlier than usual at a quality school offers the benefits of structure. Children will have many role models and routines to follow. It helps to prepare them for the transition to more formal schooling later on.

A good school in this regard will also focus on child development. It’s not about making them competitive in academic subjects early on. You’ll want an experience that helps nurture social and emotional skills, enhances communication, and offers opportunities for outdoor play and physical exercise.

These interventions may vary in scale and cost, but they are a chance for you to make the most of an investment in education. And by doing so, you can accrue advantages for yourself and your children within your lifetime.

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