I encourage you to spend a few hours with your kids at your local university or community college. You’ll be surprised at what you can find to do there. Without them realizing it, you’ll be setting your children up to imagine themselves as university students in a few short years.
I know that college isn’t for everyone. Many of us are happier for going straight into the job market or getting vocational training. I do believe, though, that every child has a right to know that a four year degree can be an option. Given my daughters’ love of formal education, I would be very surprised if they didn’t elect to head straight for a Bachelors degree after high school. I did. Their dad didn’t. They have options.
I work at a university, so I know many of the hidden gems of campus. Ever since my daughters were toddlers, we’ve visited the campus on occasional weekends to go exploring. Sometimes, there are child-focused activities, such as Fossil Day, Explore UT, and the Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland exhibit.
Even without those, though, there’s plenty to do. We never go to campus without paying a visit to the Turtle Pond.
Scavenger hunts are a wonderful way to occupy a few hours. When my daughters were learning the alphabet, I’d challenge them to find each letter as we roamed the university. They loved carrying little clipboards and crossing out the letters, one at a time, as they looked at signs, fliers, and license plates.
We’ve examined the details of architecture on campus. It’s amazing what you notice if you look closely. My office was in this building for years, but I never stop discovering new details I’ve missed.
As the girls grew older, we began to talk about the people whose names were engraved on university buildings.
On our last campus outing, I gave the girls license to take photos. J noticed how beautifully painted the ceiling of a walkway was and took this photo. I’ve walked past that building for 14 years and never noticed.
We are building wonderful memories. My daughters have an image of where I go during the day.
I’m also showing them that a university is a place they want to be. They see college students walking campus, carrying books in and out of the library, sitting on the grass and strumming guitars. They can see themselves at college because they’ve spent time on this, and other university campuses. They’ve visited my alma mater in California and several other Texas, South Carolina, and North Carolina colleges. When we set forth to visit the planetarium in Chapel Hill, NC, I didn’t even realize it was part of the university until we arrived.
Forget take your kid to work day. Take your child to college!