Did you know that today is the first day of the rest of your life? Carpe Diem! As we wake to each new day opportunities, challenges, and wonders await. Our habit this week is Be Open to Continuous Learning. Teaching our children to live each day with this perspective makes them more resilient and open to the freshness of life. I think that this is an area that adults need to practice more than children. Children seem to be much more open to new ideas and learning than adults.
Knowledge is doubling every 18 months. It is essential that our children learn how to sift through the nonsense knowledge and seek what is true and valuable. Being open to ideas and new knowledge is what has made our country the leader in innovation and invention. Take the time to ask your child that age old dinner table question, “what did you learn in school today?”. Help them to realize that everyday is a unique opportunity to grow into a better version of ourselves. Here are a few ideas to stretch this habit:
- Heart – play with someone new.
- Mind – ask to learn a different way of doing something that you already know how to do.
- Body – practice juggling.
- Soul – ask you parents about why they chose their career.
“Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another.” – John Dewey
“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.” – Louis L’Amour
“There is no finish line.” – Nike Corporation
Do you know the proverb, “Feed someone a fish and you feed them for a day, teach them how to fish and you feed them for a lifetime”? The author may be unknown, but the message is clear. Learning is something we do, not something that happens to us. Whether children are learning to ride a bike or writing complex sentences, parents and teachers can’t do it for them. They need to do it on their own if they are to truly learn. Our habit of the week is an essential principle to great growing great kids. Consider all of the thinking involved when you allow your child to solve a problem on their own. You may have a good answer you would like to share, but allowing a child to question and problem solve on their own nurtures neurons and helps grow intelligence. Use the 80:20 question:answer rule. Ask questions 80% of the time and give answers 20%. I believe this is a healthy ratio for most children. As children develop confidence with their ability to resolve problems, more questions and fewer answers is appropriate. Avoid questions that provide a simple answer such as, “yes” or “no”. Use questions that lead to creativity and problem solving. Ask “how, why, what if, help me understand, have you considered ..” . Jonas Saulk once said, “the answer to any problem pre exists. We need to ask the right question to reveal the answer”.
The question a child typically asks first is drawn from his/her personal temperament. There is a desire to seek answers that satisfy our inner curiosity. For example, a child with a strong blue kite has a dominant interpersonal intelligence and will likely be drawn to the who question. A green kite thinks more intra-personally and asks why. The red thinker wants to know where and how because he/she is more hands-on and visually smart. The yellow kite considers logistics of a question and asks what and when. If we follow the natural questioning path that a child travels, we are likely to lead him/her straight to the correct answers.
Imagine the difference between giving your child a toy model car versus giving your child a toy model to build a car. Answering versus questioning has the same effect. When our children build a model they go through the process of discovery that is essential to deep understanding, innovation, and joy. If we are always providing the answers to questions, we get to show them how smart we are. Unfortunately, that does little for their own brain. Thinking power comes from asking questions and posing problems. In our brain we do the work to resolve those questions and problems and build neural pathways that become tools for the next time the question or problem arises.
“If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.” – Albert Einstein
“Quality questions create a quality life. Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.” – Anthony Robbins
Many hands make light work, especially when you are in your 50’s. Words such as community, harmony, teamwork, family, and synergy express the outcomes of people working and living together cooperatively. It is nice to know that we live with others who are willing and able to help us be a better version of ourselves.
Thinking interdependently is one of the habits that uses many of the habits we have already practiced: flexibility, listening with understanding, thinking win-win, sacrifice, communicating with clarity, and so on. Thinking interdependently recognizes that our lives are happier and more successful when we work together.
Our effort between school and home to raise healthy and intelligent young people may be our most important interdependent relationship. When we share the same philosophy about educating children and teach meaningful habits, we more than double the influence on their minds.
It is clear to neuroscientist’s that the link between interdependence and learning is profound. When children believe that they are not alone and they have help from teachers and peers, the level of stress to learn diminishes dramatically. Knowing that we are never alone is a powerful defense against fear and boost for success.
- Heart – purposely help a friend struggling with a problem.
- Mind – read a story with someone and individually speak the parts of the characters.
- Body – work together to complete a set of chores instead of working alone.
- Soul – share how your personal smarts help others.
“Many hands make light work” – English poet John Heywood, 1546
“It is good to rub and polish our brain against that of others.” – Michael De Montaigne
Help Children Get Along
Parents’ Guide to Student Success (by grade level)
Using Positive Interdependence
Sacrifice: something given up or lost. Yet, when we sacrifice, we seem to gain something! The satisfaction and joy of watching our children become wonderful citizens and happy people is wonder and awe. It’s the common good that is the reward. Seeing others enjoy life more fully as a result of our sacrifice makes it all worth it. Giving up of our time, talents, and treasures is not something to be done in vain or for the sake of being nice. The ultimate goal is to gain something greater than that which was sacrificed. We don’t sacrifice for selfish reasons. It’s the greater good we can find satisfaction in. It’s our saying “no” to self that provides a bigger “yes” to others. When I give of my time to help one of my children I gain greater respect as a father and discover a deeper love between us.
Helping our kids to understand this deeper level of sacrifice can help them to do things, not because we said that they ought to, but because they will gain happiness in their relationships with others and greater success in their lives. Goodness should be the goal of sacrifice – not affliction. True sacrifice is never pointless. A sacrificial person should expect to gain in the end at the expense of self to the wealth of all.
Appropriately, this week is Teacher Appreciation Week and this Sunday is Mother’s Day–two of the most sacrificial people in our lives! I think it should be a week of celebration for both of these people!
“In this world it is not what we take up, but what we give up, that makes us rich.” – Henry Ward Beecher
Here are a few ways we can sacrifice and win:
- Heart – let someone go first.
- Mind – give up some play time to practice an academic skill.
- Body – help a family member with a chore that isn’t your own.
- Soul – consider how your personal talents make you special to our community.