Albert Einstein said “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” What a great quote to help explain the importance of installing perseverance in children’s attitude to learning!
Perseverance means having the self-discipline to continue a task despite being confronted with difficulties or unexpected challenges. Children need to cultivate a number of skills on their educational journey, and perseverance and strength of character are critical skills to ensure children give their all to tasks and are able to deal with the range of challenges they will be faced with throughout their school life and beyond.
Parents can aid children in the development of these skills in a number of ways and help their children draw on their own independent learning skills:
Give children ample opportunities to use their own initiative
Allowing children the time and space to work through problems independently and develop their own strategies will help them take responsibility for their own learning. Giving children the time to reflect on their mistakes and develop appropriate solutions will mean they have the confidence to work without constantly being dependent on input from their peers or adults.
Help children become resilient
The ability to bounce back from ‘failures’ is crucial as children’s expectations of their own academic ability may not always be met. Encourage children to draw the positives from any given situation instead of focussing on the negatives. As an example, although a child may have finished with a low score on a reading comprehension test, they now know that their next step is to hone their skills and focus on getting a more in-depth understanding of the texts they are reading.
Encourage children to have a voice
Children who are able to express their thoughts and opinions clearly will be better prepared to contribute to decisions about the learning they want to undertake. They will also be able to join in classroom discussions, which should help them to develop a more positive attitude to school life.
Outline the link between learning goals and outcomes
Showing children that setting learning targets will help them achieve their desired levels should aid them in developing a disciplined attitude towards their school work. A mix of daily, short-term and long-terms goals in several subject areas will also give children an extra incentive to focus on their studies.
Thomas A. Edison is famous for saying “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” This quote is in reference to the invention of the light bulb, and how many times Mr Edison had to view not succeeding as feedback, rather than failure, to persevere until he was successful. Our children can learn a great deal from the perseverance of people like Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein and Madame (Marie) Curie, but they will also learn from observing how we as adults confront challenges and keep going until we have got the best out of a situation.