Elementary & Middle SchoolStart early and talk often about why a college education is the wisest choice.

Ideally, you want to start planning for college as early as elementary school. The College Board, a mission-driven nonprofit organization that connects students to college success and opportunity, suggests the following activities to help your child develop certain skills to adjust to the challenges of high school and college later, which will lead to more college options.

Some ideas:

  • Help your child set goals for the year. Working toward specific goals will help your child stay motivated and focused.
  • Review the school calendar together. Note important dates and put them in a shared online calendar or in an easy-to-view place, such as a bulletin board in your kitchen.
  • Make a plan to check in regularly about schoolwork. If you keep up with your child’s tests, papers and homework assignments, you can celebrate successes and head off problems as a team. Get homework tips for your child.
  • Talk about extracurricular activities. Getting involved in clubs and other groups is a great way for your child to identify interests and feel more engaged in school. Read more about the benefits of extracurriculars.
  • Discuss ways to take on challenges. Encourage your child to take the most-challenging courses that he or she can handle. Tackling tough courses can give your child confidence and prepare him or her for higher-level high school classes.
  • Come up with fun reading ideas. Look for magazines or newspapers your child may like and talk about the books you loved reading when you were your child’s age. If your family makes reading enjoyable, it can become a daily habit.
  • Get the big picture on paying for college. It’s not too early. Learn the basics of financial aid.

Source: Big Future by The College Board