Thriving in the 21st Century – Print

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How Can You Prepare Your Children For

Today’s children will reach adulthood in an economic environment unlike anything the world has ever seen. The 21st century global economy is powered by an increasing rate of technological change as well as growing foreign competition; both are contributing to the high U.S. unemployment rate and stagnating American wages. How can we as parents prepare our children for success in this growing maelstrom that many are now calling “the new normal”?

In Thriving in the 21stCentury, Barbara Frank demonstrates that we must move beyond the common wisdom of the 20th century that emphasized a college diploma and lifelong employment with a large company as the only way to success. Instead, we need to set our children on a new path, one that will help them not just survive, but thrive in the 21st century.

This book is packed with ideas and resources for raising our children to become adults who respond proactively when faced with economic challenges, and who can prosper during times of great change. We can help our children reach young adulthood ready and able to tackle the future with all its challenges. And that, of course, is the key: we must prepare our children for the future…not the past.

Thriving in the 21st Century: Preparing Our Children for the New Economic Reality
Author: Barbara Frank   ● Cardamom Publishers: 2011
ISBN: 978-0974218175 ● LCCN: 2011904728
Perfect-bound   ● 6.14” x 9.21” ● 410 pages   ● $15.95

About the Author

Barbara Frank is the mother of four homeschooled-from-birth young adults, the president of Cardamom Publishers and the author of several books including “Thriving in the 21st Century,” “The Imperfect Homeschooler’s Guide to Homeschooling” and “Life Prep for Homeschooled Teenagers.”

Her work has appeared in publications including “Focus on the Family” magazine and “The Old Schoolhouse” magazine. She has a journalism degree from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Find her on the web at and

Reviews for Thriving in the 21st Century:

How To Prepare Your Kids For The New Job Market This book arrived at a very opportune moment for us. The day it came in the mail, I was trying to figure out how to advise our triplet boys who are graduating from high school in a few weeks. We’re down to the wire in making college decisions. Where to go? What to study? Wait a year? and so on.

This book provides plenty of good info for those in that boat, and for those anticipating it as well. Barbara Frank is a veteran homeschool mom and publisher who has gathered plenty of statistics and gone over them with a clear, inquiring mind.

The question: how do we prepare our kids for an economy of the present and future that’s nothing like the one in place just five years ago? How do we even guess what the trends are? Turns out the Bureau of Labor Statistics has spent plenty of time making some guesses and generating numbers based on those guesses. Are they good guesses? Mrs. Frank thinks so in some cases and not in others. For example, the BLS thinks there will be a need for more college professors in the future. But that’s based on a continuation of current trends where more and more kids have sought four-year degrees. Can that continue in a world where few of those degrees lead to a job? asks Mrs. Frank.

If you wonder what your kids ought to be studying, take a look at this book. It will give you some great ideas for guiding them, and for preparing them while still at home.

Among other things, she suggests that your kids be prepared to become entrepreneurs, because at some point in their lives, they may find themselves in business for themselves, like it or not.

So what are the probable growth areas in jobs in the U.S. in the coming years? Health care, elder care, computers, and more.

How can you prepare your children for these careers? Homeschoolers have plenty of options, which Mrs. Frank discusses in detail. (One of them involves using Motherboard Books’ Pure and Simple curriculum for computer literacy.)

Is college the best option? What’s the return on investment for a college education in various fields?

Read to find out! I’m so glad it arrived the day it did. In short, I think this book is something all parents need to read.

Phyllis Wheeler

Hope For Those Willing To Face Today’s Challenges With Ingenuity And Determination

The opening section of Thriving in the 21st Century captured and held my attention. It recounts the fascinating history of America’s working world, evaluates our current work environment, and thoughtfully speculates about our future.

Footnotes and statistics abound throughout the text; clearly, this author has done her homework.

She observes, “At no other point in American history did large numbers of people have regular paychecks, employer-paid health insurance and guaranteed income in retirement. A brief look at our American ancestors reveals that relying so heavily on employers for survival is not the American tradition” (p. 13).

She knows her audience, and anticipates their objection to taking responsibility for a job which they assume their tax dollars already fund. “Why should we have to prepare our kids for the future? Isn’t that what schools are for?”

Frank is, well, frank in her answer: “Schools were never designed to prepare our children for adulthood…. The advent of the American Public education system answered the need for a trained worker force that would fit into the complex bureaucracy of large companies. In fact, the little-known but well-documented goal of the original 19th century American public education movement was to provide the U.S. with a docile group of workers….Independent thinkers with multiple survival skills were not required in a world where ‘Ma Bell’ (or whoever your paternalistic employer was) promised to take care of you from youth to old age (pp. 15-16).

But, as Frank explains, these goals are diametrically opposed to the skills our children need today.

She distills the new economy’s requirements to seven strengths, and offers practical advice on how to cultivate those strengths in our children. Some of those skills relate directly to breadwinning, other of those skills relate to managing resources wisely.

For example, in Strength #6—Self-Sufficiency and Practical Skills—she describes the attitude and practice of “repurposing.” Some advantages of repurposing include: “saving money by not having to buy something new, saving time by not having to shop for something new, and sparing our rapidly filling landfills from items that still have some life left in them” (p. 215).

Despite the cloud overhanging our economy, Barbara Frank offers hope for those of us willing to face today’s challenges with ingenuity and determination—and shows us how to teach our children to do the same.

Stacy Farrell

A Wise Pick For Any Parent Who Wants To Equip Their Children With A Bit Of Financial Common Sense For The Coming Years

The burden of the future will shuffled onto future generations. “Thriving in the 21st Century: Preparing Our Children for the New Economic Reality” is a guide aimed at parents on how to educate their children to succeed in tomorrow’s world where it will be harder than ever to succeed. Stating the seven skills that will most be needed to succeed in the coming years, advising how to encourage your children to pick the right career path for them, the reality of the necessity of college, “Thriving in the 21st Century” is a wise pick for any parent who wants to equip their children with a bit of financial common sense for the coming years.

Midwest Book Review

5 of 5 stars – Excellent Book and I’m Keeping My Copy

My thoughts:  It really is a parent’s job to prepare their children for life out there in the big world. In these tough economic times, that job is a whole lot scarier than it has ever been. Parents wonder how they will ever pay for college or even if their child should go to college at all. It’s clear that decisions made today will shape the economic future of our children for years to come.

Honestly, it’s all enough to keep parents up at night wondering what to do!

So enter into the equation, the book Thriving in the 21st Century by Barbara Frank.  This book is filled with very helpful advice, points to ponder and URLs to multiple websites so you can research ideas even further.

Part guidebook for the future, part how-to book for parents today, Thriving in the 21st Century is broken down into 3 key sections. In Section 1, Ms. Frank outlines the current economic situation and urges parents to be diligent and proactive when it comes to their childrens’ future. Section 2 covers what Frank calls the “Seven Strengths Your Children Will Need to Thrive in the 21st Century.” This section is really the heart of the book, explaining what needs addressing in your child’s education and how to fix it.  Personally, I liked Section 2 the best because of the point-by-point advice. Then in Section 3, Frank sums up the points with a healthy dose of “you can do it” attitude. For parents feeling insecure about the future, Section 3 is where the list making meets the practical advice of Ms. Frank, a mother who has been there and done that with her own four kids.

Author Barbara Frank has combined her parenting experience with extensive research to create Thriving in the 21st Century. As a 20-year homeschooling veteran, Frank’s book does advocate homeschooling. While personally I agree with Frank’s position, I know many parents without the means or inclination to homeschool.  Rest assured this book is a really good resource for all parents. Frank urges parents to teach their children valuable life skills such as cooking, living debt-free and having computer literacy.

The current economic times might just bring an end to the old adage of “do great in school so you can get into a good college and have a wonderful career.” If you are wondering if your child will be Thriving in the 21st Century, check out Barbara Frank’s book today. Even if your kids are still young, it’s never to early to start preparing them for the future.   I read. Do you? – Pamela



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