We often hear the saying “our children are our future,” and we just roll our eyes because it’s hard to think about someone who can’t legally drive or vote or do anything remotely “adult” being in charge of us all.

But we need to.

If your child is on the cusp of graduating high school, or fresh and new to the world, we as adults need to think about how we’re preparing them to run the world, because, well, they will in one way or another. So how can we prepare our future leaders? Here are some ideas.

Education is a big deal when it comes to shaping our young minds.

Of course our kids are going to school — that’s kind of a mandatory thing — but are they enjoying it and taking away everything they can from it? We, as parents, guardians, teachers, neighbors — whatever — need to make learning fun! Let them explore their interests but also try to make their dislikes less of a chore. Introduce learning games, songs, or hands-on learning activities for older students. Keeping a balanced life between extra-curricular activities, elective courses, and other studies is also incredibly important, and when one takes over the others, it can cause a fall in grades, lack of sleep or proper nutrition, and even depression.

Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics. S.T.E.M.

There is a real push for STEM activities now more than ever as the world around us moves forward into an age of technology. STEM education teaches teamwork and problem solving techniques, as well as encourages experimentation, knowledge application, and adaptation. It’s not a “nerd” thing anymore; there are real benefits to STEM education. Who knows, maybe your kiddos will find that they enjoy it!

The Arts.

With the same energy we praise and push STEM education, we also need to promote “the arts”; countless studies show how important it is to expose a child to a world of art, music, theatre, and the like as well as the classical reading, writing, and math. While it’s not something we should throw at the students and hope something sticks, let them explore both ends of the spectrum. An engineer can love theatre just as much, and maybe in the future, apply it to a career.

And lastly, emotional support.

Our future leaders will not be able to thrive without a support system, just as adults cannot thrive without one. While they may be smaller, students are still human and need that little bit of love. Teach them how to handle stress in a healthy, productive way — what coping mechanisms work for them as an individual? There are other ways that we can support and help them develop emotionally, such as encouragement, praise, and taking a genuine interest in their passions. Adults are the embers beneath their fire that keep them going when they run low, and the more we build them up, the better they will do. With these things in mind, we can help shape the leaders of tomorrow’s world, today.