What parents can do to help kids learn the skill of “self-regulation”
Your child’s final Ontario Progress Report is going to appear in their backpack fairly soon. While you may be tempted to file it away after noting the overall marks, the summer is a perfect time to work on “Next Steps“.
Many parents noticed a change in format and content in 2010 when the new reports were being implemented in different districts in Ontario. The Growing Success document gives the context and expectations for assessment and evaluation that teachers must use. At the forefront of the changes and literally now at the front of the Report Card, you’ll find the learning skills section that outlines six “Habits of Mind”, titled, “Learning Skills“. These are vitally important for students to integrate into their actions and learning, at school, at home and within their communities. These skills also go hand-in-hand with learning in the content areas.
Below you’ll find the Ontario Ministry’s breakdown of Self-regulation, which is only one of the Learning Skills. More attention will be given to the other Learning Skills in future posts.
• sets their own individual goals and monitors their progress towards achieving them;
• seeks clarification or assistance when needed;
• assesses and reflects critically on their own strengths, needs, and interests;
• identifies learning opportunities, choices, and strategies to meet personal
needs and achieve goals;
• perseveres and makes an effort when responding to challenges.
Below are some of my thoughts on how to facilitate these skills with your young ones:
- You can start by: setting 2 or 3 goals. When children are setting goals, they need to be very much involved in determining what goals they will work towards. Keeping it manageable by setting just a few goals and making them possible to reach ensures that children will believe that they can achieve them. (For example, instead of “being more organized” as a goal, try “putting my bag away as soon as I come home”, “picking up toys off the floor before bedtime”, or “placing my plates in the sink after eating”.)
- Setting goals speaks very much to a child’s ability to know themselves as learners, to understand their interests and choose goals that are relevant to themselves.
- You will need to figure out what needs to be done to achieve the goals, they will need to work on the goals, you’ll assess with your child if they were achieved satisfactorily and together re-set new goals if those were met. Along the way, your children will need plenty of genuine encouragement and you’ll have to frequently check in to make sure that the goals don’t need to be changed to better suit your child’s current situation or needs.
- A perfect time to start this is during the summer months. As much as your children are going to hate me for saying it, there are “Next Steps” in that report card. This is an excellent moment for kids to take stock of everything that they excel at both in and out of school. I like the format of “Two Stars and a Wish“. You can tell your child two areas where they did well and one thing you’d “wish” for them to improve. They should also develop their own and put it in writing so that they can look back on them and reflect on their progress.
- If there aren’t a lot of academic goals to be met, then have your child focus on a personal goal related to family relationships, an extra-curricular activity they do or something new they’d like to try out.
- For those needing lots of help on the academic front, be aware that your child can feel overwhelmed if you try to tackle all of their needs all at once. Start small to build confidence and pick only one goal at a time, especially if school has been a source of stress in the past.
- Minimize stress around said goals!
- Talk about people you know that have persevered through challenges. This helps to bring to life that challenges are a part of life and that goals can be a great way to manage and move beyond hardships.
- Help them to understand that small hurdles along the way are to be expected and overcome. Give them examples from your own life.
- Your child may like to visualize themselves achieving their goals as it helps to envision the final outcome and lessen patterns of negative thoughts that some children are prone to doing.
- Kids need to count on you to make it fun. (The child who needs help with math is ging to HATE doing worksheets during the summer, so why not find them some online math games, or have them help you with the countless activities in the home that are related to math?)
What else do you do to build these skills?
Anyone wishing to take an in-depth look a the Ontario Ministry’s document on assessment and evaluation can link to: Growing Success.