Posted on September 10th, 2018
Many children dream of possessing a super power but few know that they already have one... The ability to learn! A skilled learner will be able to do anything they turn their minds to. Well, perhaps not leap over tall buildings in a single bound - but they can expand their horizons, navigate problems and achieve their highest ambitions.
Just like a superhero must master their powers, your child must develop his or her learning abilities. Our tips below will help you to guide your child through harnessing their power.
Find Another Way Round
Oh no! The way is blocked by a nefarious piece of homework, and the deadline is fast approaching! Slumped at the kitchen table, your child is nearing defeat… What can be done?
When your child encounters an obstacle to their learning, like a topic they cannot get to grips with, it can be difficult to know how to help. You may not understand the subject or, even if you do, your suggestions may be met with ‘But that’s not how the teacher told us to do it!’
A skilled learner knows that a problem has multiple solutions; if one route is blocked, there will be another way round. The best way to support your child in this situation is to encourage them not to despair but to explore different solutions to the problem.
Gently guide them through your understanding of the topic. Reassure them that their teacher will not mind if they approach a problem in a different way but will appreciate their willingness to keep trying. If the topic is as opaque to you as it is to your child, try to comprehend it together. Show your child that learning is not about already knowing everything but about working to attain understanding.
Don’t be their Kryptonite
If your child believes that intelligence is measured by success, they will perceive any setbacks they experience as evidence that they are not intelligent enough to cope and see little point in persevering. By contrast, if your child knows that setbacks are a natural and inevitable part of learning, they will not find failure (or fear of failure) so debilitating.
Adjusting your own perception of failure is crucial to helping your child toward the latter mind-set. Research has shown that focussing too acutely on your child’s performance, monitoring successes and failures and rewarding only outcome, not effort, will give your child the impression that there is no point in trying unless they know they will succeed.
Instead, praise your child for making their best efforts, whatever the result. Just like a superhero, they won’t win every battle. But if they understand that a setback is not a sign that they should give up but an invitation to keep trying, eventually victory will be theirs.