Deborah Goodkin, Managing Director, Savings Plans, First National Bank

If you’re the parent of a young child, college may be the last thing on your mind—and likely the last thing you want to think about while juggling the responsibilities of parenthood. But take it from us: Teaching your son or daughter the value of higher education is the first step towards helping them to one day achieve their educational aspirations. The earlier you begin a discussion, the better.


Parents, here are some useful tips to ease your youngsters into the mindset:


  1. Start a dialogue: First, initiate a conversation about your child’s hopes and dreams for the future, and explain how college, technical or vocational school can help them achieve these aspirations.


  1. Make higher education an accessible, realistic target: To reinforce this, it’s important to instill confidence and ambition within your child; remind them that they are intelligent, and that they can succeed in whatever field that they choose to pursue, as long as they put in the effort. Additionally, opening a NEST 529 account solidifying a long-term financial commitment, and then letting your child know you are saving, will show them that you believe in their dreams and are taking the steps to make them a reality.   


  1. Build a solid network: Encourage loved ones to discuss their own educational experiences, along with your child’s goals, to remind them of the various ways post-secondary education can propel them towards a successful future. It often helps to hear insight from trusted individuals beyond their parents.


  1. Scope out local events: From attending a musical performance or play, to watching a sports game together, involving your children in events affiliated with higher education can make the idea seem much more exciting and obtainable to young children.


  1. Reward a job well done: Encourage a love of learning by showing your children that school is important and that hard work pays off. Instilling an early passion and interest in education helps to increase a child's motivation and provide them with a direction for their lives. Consider rewarding good grades with NEST 529 contributions; not only does it teach children about the importance of saving and personal finance, but it also reinforces the message that their future includes higher education.


It’s vital to get kids thinking about their future from a young age, so that they can begin to understand what their options are and formulate their dreams. By encouraging your child to think about the important things early, you are setting them up to better plan and prepare for a successful tomorrow.