What parents ought to know about Learning Skills – 10 tips to facilitate taking initiative
Last week I wrote about what parents can do to help kids learn the-skill of “self regulation“. This and several other skills appear on the Ontario Progress Report Card for a reason. They are hugely important in determining success in all areas of kid’s academic and personal lives. The Ontario Ministry of Education states that students should take initiative. A student:
- looks for and acts on new ideas and opportunities for learning;
- demonstrates the capacity for innovation and a willingness to take risks;
- demonstrates curiosity and interest in learning;
- approaches new tasks with a positive attitude;
- recognizes and advocates appropriately for the rights of self and others.
What does this mean really?
Children who are curious seekers of knowledge often take initiative to find new information, and they confidently approach new opportunities with ease. Their attitude is not a negative one, rather they seem to possess a positive outlook when trying something new. Children who take initiative often have a strong sense of independence and prefer autonomy when doing things. A part of taking initiative is related to being able to face and attempt to overcome obstacles (do you see the correlation between this and self-regulation?). Finding opportunities for growth can be about developing a self-understanding of strengths and weaknesses and figuring out and acting upon creative ideas to get beyond challenges.
Here a a few ways you can make the best of your child’s attitude towards taking initiative:
- Be aware of your child’s developmental stage. Young children are unlikely to take initiative the way you may envision it. Younger children learn these skills by playing and exploring. You can mentor them by facilitating safe exploration of their world. When you encourage them to explore, they develop confidence to explore and try new things.
- If your child has already learned how to do something independently (e.g., tying shoelaces, feeding themselves, folding their clean clothes), try not to do that task for them. Expect them to do it and they will gain confidence and belief in themselves.
- Encourage them to participate in community events that develop a sense of empathy. This could stem from a personal situation/ issue that they feel connected to (look into the examples of Craig Kielburger, Hannah Taylor and Iqbal Masih, -three youngsters who have changed their local and global communities).
- Be a role model by taking on issues that affect your community. If they see you take initiative or if they have other role models who do so, they are more likely to replicate those actions
- Try to encourage them to do things for internal rewards (pride), rather than external rewards (“bribery”). Keep in mind some children need those external rewards in order to start being motivated, and can eventually work towards internal rewards.
- Help your child to reflect upon their choices and actions when they do see that they have a challenge ahead of them, and facilitate and assist them with planning their next steps.
- Being proactive can be hard for some children to grasp; be their mentor and hold their hands less and less as you see them able to do more and more of the work themselves.
- If they fail, – which they will, – help them to see the growth and learning that occurred from that “failure”. Come up with language that your children feel comfortable using, as “failure” has negative connotations.
- Be genuine and specific with your praise. They need to hear you say specifically why what they did that was great or what they can do to plan for a better result in the future.
- Listen. Allow them the space to give themselves praise and constructive feedback.