It is incredibly helpful, as parents and teachers, to know how your children or students think about their learning. How do they feel about learning new material? Do they think that they are in charge of their learning, or is it something beyond their control? Are some children simply just smarter than others?
All parents want their children to maximise their full potential in learning, develop good character and lead lives that inspire others. The first five years of a child’s life is the most important. This is the stage when children learn appropriate behaviours, boundaries, empathy and many other important social skills that will continue to shape their lives.
Here are some simple yet timeless values and principles that can help your child develop good habits in their lives:
1. Be proactive
Being proactive means taking responsibility for one’s choices and behaviors. Understanding this is key to the other habits. Being proactive says, “I am in charge of my own life. I am responsible for whether I am happy or sad. I can choose how I react to other people or situations. I am in the driver’s seat.” Young children can easily learn to understand that different choices yield different results. Be it helping out around the house, like washing the dishes, sweeping the floors or keeping their rooms tidy without you having to remind them. These are some ways children can be proactive and practise this habit.
2. Begin with the end in mind
Teach children to think about results and consequences before they decide what to do. Every experience is a lesson to learn, be it good or bad. Through these experiences, they will be able to learn from their mistakes and rise from it. Practising this habit will help children to plan and think through their actions before making a decision with a result-oriented mindset. Parents can ask questions why they chose to perform this action, to understand the children’s train of thoughts.
3. Put first things first
With so many tasks at hand, we tend to feel overwhelmed at times, and most of us do not handle pressure well. Children need to learn how to prioritise and spend their time on things that are important. This means saying no to things they should not do. This habit teaches them to set priorities, make a schedule, and follow a plan. Buy a planner or teach them to create a to-do list, get them to pen down their tasks and learn to be disciplined and organised. This habit is easy to nurture and will be helpful in all aspects of their lives.
4. Think Win-Win
Maturity is something that children acquire over time as they learn skills and develop the capacity to deal with the complexities of life. It encourages them to achieve their goals as well as having the consideration to think of how others can benefit. Through this habit, children not only learn to care for others but also develop their problem solving skills. This habit can be evolved by giving children scenarios or put them in situations where they are able to exercise their thought processes to think in a considerate way. Gently correct them and ask them why they make certain decisions in a particular situation. Teach them that finding ways that can benefit both themselves and others brings more value and happiness to both parties.
5. Seek first to understand, then be understood
People go through life wishing to be listened to, and so by listening instead of talking, you are giving something valuable to the person speaking. For children to learn this, parents can practice this habit by holding simple conversations with them and taking turns to listen and to speak. Children learn from what they see. Be open-minded, try to see things from others’ viewpoints, listen to other peoples’ ideas and feelings and engage others when talking by showing positive body language such as looking in the eyes of the person talking. When parents practise these habits, children will also naturally develop this habit.
Encourage your child to learn the value of team work. This will benefit them socially, mentally and allow them to learn how to work well in groups. It also helps them to seek out others’ ideas to solve problems together. Team work will help them value others’ strengths and learn from them as well as develop their emotional quotient. If your child has siblings, start by assigning simple tasks such as doing household chores or picking up some groceries at the market, to give them a chance experiencing what it is like to work as a team. If not, allow your child to be involved in classroom or team sports activities such as football or baseball. Allow children to build early experiences by working in teams, learning to contribute and be a good team player.
7. Sharpen the Saw
Our body and minds are tightly connected. Focus some time on building and developing children physically, this will contribute greatly to their mental health. Allow children to experience as much social experiences and develop empathy for others. Do not restrict learning to just the classroom but expose them to life experiences and they will be able to find opportunities in life anywhere!