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Targeting Excellence in 2021

As your child approached the finishing line of 2020, they should have a better sense of what’s expected of them for the rest of the new year.

In 2021, your child should be focusing on preparing for the gradual ramp-up of academic rigor across the different subjects.

Here are three enterprising goals your child can strive to achieve for the year.

Learn from Making Mistakes

Learning from mistakes is part of how we challenge ourselves to learn to do things differently. It motivates us to try new, innovative approaches to problem-solving. Throughout a lifetime, learning from mistakes helps develop wisdom and good judgment.

Giving meaningful and specific praise motivates children who are learning from mistakes. Praise should focus on developing their character strengths, helping them understand their internal abilities. It is an opportunity to develop a child’s resilience. Here's 10 ways to get your child to learn from his or her mistakes:

  1. Acknowledge that you don’t expect them to be perfect.

  2. Let them know your love is unconditional, regardless of their mistakes or lapses in judgment.

  3. Don’t rescue kids from their mistakes. Instead, focus on the solution.

  4. Provide examples of your own mistakes, the consequences, and how you learned from them.

  5. Encourage children to take responsibility for their mistakes and not blame others.

  6. Avoid pointing out your child’s past mistakes. Instead, focus on the one at hand.

  7. Praise children for their ability to admit their mistakes.

  8. Praise children for their efforts and courage to overcome setbacks.

  9. Mentor your child on how to apologize when their mistakes have hurt others.

  10. Help kids look at the good side of getting things wrong!

Practice Makes Progress

Kids practice to reach all kinds of goals—writing their names, dribbling a basketball, playing a song on the guitar. Deliberate practice is a research-based technique that will make their practice sessions more effective so they can improve over time.

Teach your kids these four principles of deliberate practice:

  1. Work on weaknesses rather than doing things that they already do well, children should focus on the things that are hard for them. For example, they might replay the part of their trumpet solo with the high notes that they’ve been having trouble with, rather than the parts that they know well.

  2. Give full concentration to avoid distractions that make it hard to stay on task, like noise, social media, or people nearby. Instead of writing an essay with their phone beside them while hanging out with friends, they might go to a quiet library and tuck their phone in their backpack.