So the question becomes, how do we create kids that can persevere?
I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you from the get go in writing this blog post that this last year was one of the most difficult of my life. My husband lost his job on my son’s birthday. He got a job that took him away from home till 11 o’clock at night and he left at three in the morning. Which might have been okay, if we had still been fostering teenagers. But we had added three new family members through adoption. All under the age 9, one of them being a baby! At school, I taught two tested subject areas to a grade level I did not enjoy.
People would ask me how I was doing. I would just nod my head and ask how they were instead. We were not doing well. But we made it through.
My husband found a new job, and I am now staying at home with our youngest. And our family are starting not just to survive but thrive. Through all of this, I wanted my kids to be happy, but I also wanted them to see that no matter how bad things got we would make it through.
As a teacher I want the same for my school kids as well. My personal hard times are looking up. But some of the babies in our classroom, well... their hard times are coming up. Or, our students are going to continue facing them for years. So, how do we teach them to persevere despite their circumstances?
#1- Have Family/Class Meetings
Communication is key. Our students need to be able to express their frustration respectfully, detail their challenges, and express any other emotions effectively. They also need to learn to listen. We all need to voice our thoughts and feelings. The thoughts and feeling of others may not be fun or comfortable to hear but they need to be heard.
Yes, you may hear how horrible the broccoli casserole was last night. But hey, if that is the worst thing your kid is coming up with at the time count your blessings and pat yourself on the back. ;) Family/class meetings will strengthen your bond and help you address issues that are arising. It is also a great time to problem solve.
#2 Set Goals-
One big key to persevering is knowing that there is an end goal in sight. So, help your child or student make a plan. When we face challenges, having a road map will make it easier to say, “Let’s make it to such and such day. Or, I know that I can get through the STAAR test because I am going to practice my math facts this many nights a week.” Problems don’t seem as big and overwhelming if you can focus on small parts to be successful at. (During our crazy time, I had very specific dates circled on my calendars.) I have also heard/seen dream boards. I think this is a very real visual for kids.
#3 Look at Real Life Models-
Kid president is a great example of a an optimistic kid! Despite his illness, he still offers great advice. Let’s face it, we all have a story to tell. Ask people about theirs. Be inspired by them. Even have some come and visit your classroom.
#4 Give multi step chores or problems then step in as little as possible.
Trying to let my children learn age appropriate chores or cooking with them is like herding squirrels!!! It would be so much easier to just do it myself! But, the more I let them do it, the more confident they become. As they are doing chores, I often run into tears. “I can’t reach the-“ “This———- is in my way”. I pull my kids in for a hug and tell them I know they can do it. I then tell them that they will complete this task by themselves but I will help them think through their challenge.
I ask three questions...
1. What is your challenge/task?
2. What is stopping you from getting it done?
3. What tools could you use to help you get it done. (And no, your sibling are not an option!!!!!)
Click on the image to the right to check out more about how I use these questions in my classroom and with my own kids.
#5 . Finally, and most of you knew this was coming. Read with them!!! Yes, your ten year old will still read picture books. After another trip to our favorite bookstore, my oldest son said, “Man mom, characters in books always have problems.” I laughed and responded we wouldn’t read them if they didn’t, right?” Reading aloud teaches empathy, character education, and so much more. And hey, who doesn’t love snuggling with their kid? Except when they have just come in sweaty from outside and reek to high heaven. Go make them take a shower first than read to them.
I hope these tips help you. Do you have a favorite book or a story? Tell me in the comments below!