Art supplies, a cool thumb-drive, and a new backpack are nothing short of thrilling in my household. We love preparing for school. And like a lot of parents, I assumed for years that success in school would be a safe route to happiness in life.
But a new study , which followed nearly 1,000 people over 32 years, makes it abundantly clear that preparing kids for academic success does not necessarily lead to happiness. You know what does predict happiness in adulthood, according to the study? Friendship. When kids have a lot of friends in childhood and adolescence, they tend to grow up to be happy adults.
I’m not suggesting we should stop helping our kids with their homework, or that we should casually send them to school unprepared to learn. Obviously not. But this study reinforces the most important thing we’ve learned about happiness in the last 100 years, across academic disciplines the world over: Our happiness is best predicted by the breadth and the depth of our relationships with others.
All of this is to say that there are a few back-to-school “supplies” our kids need that are not usually on the lists schools send home. They need tools to build social intelligence.
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