The book, Top of the Class: How Asian Parents Raise High Achievers—and How You Can Too, presents some intriguing statistics. For example, it is simply coincidence that while Asians comprise about 4% of this country’s population, they account for about 20% of enrollment in Ivy League Colleges? Why do Asian Americans earn about $10,000 more annually than non-Asians?
Theauthors of this book, two Korean-American sisters, present some possible
answers to these and other questions. They maintain that these statistics do not indicate that Asians are more intelligent than others. Rather, they embrace a different work ethic. The authors share a number of the “secret techniques” that Asian parents employ to support their children’s academic success. Their suggestions involve the commitment of time and effort rather than financial output, so most people can adopt the strategies.
Foremost on their list is the importance of instilling a love of learning and education. But instead of simply paying lip service to this concept, parents must demonstrate that they are serious about their own learning. They should model this love for learning in a variety of ways. In addition to participating in enriching
experiences such as visiting museums and libraries, parents need to display a
desire for their own personal growth. Parents who demonstrate enthusiasm in their careers and seek personal development serve as excellent role models for their children. Even parents who are unhappy in their employment can model desired behavior to their offspring. They can seek opportunities for growth
outside the workplace, or they can attempt to introduce their children to
adults who do demonstrate fulfillment in their careers.
Another “secret” that the authors reveal is encouraging children to learn delayed gratification, certainly a challenging endeavor in American society. Achieving long term success in education as well as other aspects of life involves being able to understand the “big picture.” Indulging children’s whims teaches them that acquiring material possessions is effortless. The process of having to earn something requires effort that can result in greater appreciation. Some sacrifices, whether material or abstract, are worth the delayed reward and
provide added appreciation.
Furthermore, children should clearly understand their roles as students. Just as adults have responsibilities in their roles as parents and employees, children have responsibilities in their primary roles as students. Parents who demonstrate respect for their children’s teachers will have children who model this behavior. Parents who understand their partnership with their children’s teachers will reinforce the learning that takes places within the classroom. For it is parents, after all, who are ultimately responsible for their children’s education. Setting aside time every day to discuss, review and enrich school lessons demonstrates how important parents feel education is. They should also manage their children’s time after school so that recreation and athletics are balanced with learning.
The ultimate lesson that the authors present is that parents, regardless of race or ethnicity, can help their children become high achievers. Those who firmly believe that their children are their highest priority will demonstrate behaviors that confirm that belief.