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:
Acknowledge that you don’t expect them to be perfect.
Let them know your love is unconditional, regardless of their mistakes or lapses in judgment.
Don’t rescue kids from their mistakes. Instead, focus on the solution.
Provide examples of your own mistakes, the consequences, and how you learned from them.
Encourage children to take responsibility for their mistakes and not blame others.
Avoid pointing out your child’s past mistakes. Instead, focus on the one at hand.
Praise children for their ability to admit their mistakes.
Praise children for their efforts and courage to overcome setbacks.
Mentor your child on how to apologize when their mistakes have hurt others.
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:
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.
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.
Get feedback to find out what they got right and where they made mistakes by asking a teacher or checking their work. For example, if they made mistakes on their long-division homework, they might review their work again and talk to their teacher about how they can solve those problems correctly in the future.
Repeat until mastery - keep working on their weaknesses, stay on task, and get feedback until they master their specific goal.
Encourage your children to share their experiences of failure, frustration, practice, and success with friends and family. Ask them to reflect on the value of practice and how they are learning not only to expect that failure, frustration, and confusion will be part of the process, but to feel more comfortable with those experiences along the way.
Heed Expert Advice
A yawning gulf often separates what teachers say and what parents hear, and vice versa. When parents first send their child out into the great big world of school, they naturally expect that teachers will see what they see in their offspring: the smarts, the humour, the delightfully high spirits. In the wake of such expectations, the teacher’s perspective can come as a shock.
During the high school years, parent-teacher communication can deteriorate dramatically. Communication can break down even further when parent and teacher differ in their educational approaches. Here's how parents can hear out future complaints with an open mind.
What the teacher says “Your child is not working to potential.”
What the parent may hear “My child is inherently lazy and I’m a bad parent.”
Bridging the gap Ask the teacher to help you brainstorm ideas for motivators that suit your child’s personality, both inside and outside class.
What the teacher says “I’ve done everything I can to help your child; he needs therapy or medication to control his behaviour.”
What the parent may hear “My child doesn’t measure up and the teacher has given up on him.”
Bridging the gap Help the teacher understand your child’s strengths; suggest pairing your child with a peer mentor; talk to your child’s doctor about behavioural testing.
Learning from mistakes and failures isn’t easy. All children need encouragement to learn and succeed. Positive words from parents, teachers, and mentors during difficult learning challenges is essential for children’s growth and development.
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