The Next Generation of Generations

Recently I have been wondering about who comes after Generation Z. The kids born after 2010- what are we calling them and how might we define them someday? My own kiddos will all fall into this infant generation which still has nearly 20 years worth of babies to be conceived. So what comes after Z? Experts say the Greek alphabet most likely. Welcome Generation Alpha.

Why Do We Label Generations?

For the most part generation characteristics are studied to help tailor marketing strategies, understand social norms and navigate workplace issues. The defining characteristics of a generation come from trends and events which that generation experience during similar developmental stages of their life. For example, the Great Depression or the Internet (weird comparison, right?)

On the home front however, I see a different use for generational breakdowns. Generational breakdowns are a tool to meaningfully prepare our children for life as they will experience it. Combining what we know about Gen Z (Centennials) and what is anticipated with Alphas, I’ve been able to think outside of my generation’s box. Please know I am not suggesting hypothesis on a mostly unborn generation should outweight or dictate the core values you will teach your children. Somethings remain non-negotiable and sacred. But I do suggest we consider how living a productive life looks from the perspective of Gen Z and Gen Alpha. How do we set these kids up for success? Here are a few things to ponder at this point…

  1. Life and technology are seamlessly experienced together. A surprising number of these kids will have, do have, have had a digital foot prints before turning 3. At the very least, most have held pacifiers and smartphones at the same time. We joke about walking and chewing bubblegum but these kids walk and swipe- while they are still in diapers.  These generations will not separate technology and living as pervious generations have. For them the two things have always been occurring simultaneously. So seamlessly incorporating hand-held technology into our homeschool setting makes sense. For me it meant shifting my focus from limiting screen time to encouraging frequent constructive use of the devices we have in our home. After all, our kids will navigate many parts of their adult life from the touchscreen of a device. For me, the tricky part is feeling that we’ve  achieved a balance between technology and life.  My pre-Centennial mind still categorizes them as two separate things. More and more I find ways to satisfy my own need to have that balance in our home while allowing my daughter to embrace technology in a way that benefits her future.
  2. They will likely have five or more careers during their lifetime. Wow. What does my kid need to possess to successfully navigate that much change? A detailed list may be fairly long but one thing sums most of it up: a genuine ability to learn. Not the ability to regurgitate information…but a set of skills which enables them to explore, digest and apply knowledge. Something else we should consider. These generations truly need solid, healthy coping mechanisms. Moving, new jobs, school programs…these are all major predictors of stress. We need to equip our kids to cope with multiple stressors in their world which will not be easy switched off.
  3. They will be the wealthiest generations yet. But they will be moving more, continually obtaining education, and saving for retirements which likely will not be supplemented through pensions, social security and maybe even Medicare. They will also be able to make financial decisions faster than ever before. That means we need to really think about how we are teaching our kids to manage money. How do we (or how will we) involve them in making decisions related to money- early on? The First National Bank of Dad by David Owen is a fantastic resource to help you use creative, meaningful and real experiences to teach your kids how to have a handle on money. Read it.

The school system as we know it was designed for a generation of people who lead lives nothing like the lives our Gen Z’s and Alphas will lead. No part of their lives will be comparable. There is no better time to really reassess how well we are preparing our future generations for life. Homeschooling gives an amazing opportunity to reconsider and redesign how we empower our child to reach their fullest potential for the world which lies ahead, not the world we are leaving behind.

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