News Herald – Juliann Talkington
Do high standardized test scores assure success?
Many highly-accomplished people had far from perfect scores on the SAT test. Some struggled to get through college and others dropped out. With these results, there must be more to success than academic brilliance.
Granted, technological advances have made academic knowledge, especially in math and the sciences, more important. However, common sense is just as vital as it was fifty years ago. Sadly, many parents have become so focused on academic knowledge and fame that common sense has fallen by the wayside.
Common sense is something most of us understand intuitively, but is difficult to define. It is a combination of wisdom and self-discipline.
According to Wordnik wisdom is, “The ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting.” Wisdom is not something that can be found in a textbook, taught in a classroom, or downloaded from the Internet. It is not tested through standardized tests like the SAT, MCAT, or GRE. Instead it is something that comes with exposure and experience.
The same dictionary defines self-discipline as, “Training and control of one’s conduct.” Self-discipline is generally modeled and taught at home through structure, responsibility, consequences, and praise.
Before the age of helicopter parents, most kids developed common sense as part of everyday life. Children were given considerable responsibility. Parents set expectations and there were consequences for poor choices. Only the winners received trophies. Through the school of hard knocks kids gradually learned how to present ideas, communicate with others, and alert people of delays. They came to understand the importance of punctuality and how to diplomatically address problems.
Now many parents are so worried about the “perfect” D1 sports program, landing a lead movie role, etc. that they do too much of their kids. It is often better to set general extra-curricular involvement requirements and establish minimum effort expectations rather than micromanage.
Finally, it is important for children to take responsibility for their actions. If a child is going to be late, he/she should notify the adult in charge. When a child damages property, he/she needs to earn money for the repair. And when a child performs poorly on a test, he/she needs to get a poor grade rather than have his/her parent negotiate with the principal.
Stepping out of the micromanagement role is challenging. However, it is easier once we realize our children need an environment that fosters common sense to become truly brilliant.
News Herald – Juliann Talkington
Manipulation is rampant in the digital age. It is easy for young people to be sucked into toxic personal relationships, political and social causes that are fronts for individuals and/or corporations that are attempting to gain power and money, and job situations where bosses or coworkers take advantage of them.
Most parents want to shelter their kids from these situations. Sheltering kids, however, may not be the best strategy. Instead it is better to empower kids, so they are not victims.
First, parents need to make sure their kids are confident, since it is harder for self-confident kids to be manipulated. Self-confidence is earned, not given, so is important to encourage children to explore many things and urge them to continue the activities that they enjoy and do well. In addition, it is essential that they learn the value of hard work. Also, it is imperative that the activities they selected are building self-confidence. Sometimes kids need to change activities as they grow to maintain healthy self-confidence.
The next step is to teach children how to identify a manipulative person, how to keep an emotional distance from such a person, and how to avoid personalization and self-blame. Then children need to learn how to turn the tables by asking probing questions and using time as a delay.
Finally parents need to allow controlled exposure. As counterintuitive as it sounds, kids need exposure to manipulators in safe environments, so they know when someone is trying to control them. In addition, kids need practice disarming a manipulator.
This means parents need to create learning opportunities. For example, a parent could consciously avoid speaking to school officials when a child’s classmate is “mean” on the playground, and instead help their child figure out how to handle situation him/herself. This playground practice should help prepare the child with more insidious manipulation that occurs when he/she is older.
As the child becomes more skilled at detecting and diverting manipulation, parents can gradually provide more exposure. By the time kids reach the teenage years, parents should expect them to discuss absences, homework, performance, and goals with coaches and teachers. In these conversations where will be many opportunities for the child to experience subtle and overt manipulation and to learn ways to remain in control.
Obviously there will be times parents have to step in, especially as when kids beginning interacting with adults, but parents should not be so protective that kids do not have an opportunity to learn.
News Herald – Juliann Talkington
“Learning to read, write, solve mathematics problems, apply scientific principles to real world situations, and speak a foreign language are not the only skills children need to acquire before they leave home.” ~Confucius
Many experts argue that time management abilities are equally important. Academically gifted people cannot survive in modern society if they are not able to deliver a high quality product, on time.
Most K-12 schools are struggling to teach time management skills, because parents are constantly pressuring them about grades. Many teachers are under so much pressure to issue high marks that they create extra opportunities for students to improve their final course grade.
Although “second chances” give the parents what they want, they have the unintended consequence of teaching kids that planning is irrelevant because there are always other opportunities to change the result.
When young people get to college and/or enter the workforce “second chances” are rare. Most college professors do not offer extra papers or problem sets at the end of the semester and employers take a dim view of late arrivals, shoddy work, and missed deadlines.
Since it has become impossible for most K-12 teachers to teach time management, parents must handle the task at home.
As a first step, kids need to learn how to plan ahead. There are many free computer-based scheduling applications that help in this area. Kids generally find it easy to enter homework day by day, but often need coaching on how to break future activities, like preparing for a test that is two weeks away, into daily tasks.
Then children need to learn how to make productive use of time. For example, it takes “forever” to finish math homework when kids chat online between problems. Learning to stay off social media during homework time can go a long way to improving efficiency.
Sleep is also important for time management. It takes less time to learn material and complete homework tasks when the brain is rested, so it is important to make sure your kids get enough sleep each night.
Multi-taking is not efficient. Teach your childred to finish one task before they begins another one.
Procrastination never pays. If something is due today, make sure it is finished. Otherwise, the next day will be overwhelming.
Prioritize homework first. This prevents late nights and productivity problems.
Learning to manage time is challenging. Start teaching your child early and reward progress often!
The Atlantic – Katherine Martinelli
“Adventure playgrounds aren’t a new concept. Also known as waste-material playgrounds, they were popularized in Europe and the U.K. after World War II, when people realized that kids were playing in bombed-out lots…The primary components of an adventure playground are moveable parts (which can include items like boxes, pipes, paint, hammers, and even saws) and trained, paid grown-up “playworkers,” who oversee and facilitate the play without interfering…Shifts in parenting trends are reviving interest in waste-material playgrounds. So-called helicopter parenting, in which parents hover and rush in at the first sign of distress, is increasingly being called out by authors and researchers writing books and articles about the importance of letting children fail, working out their own problems, and developing independence.”(more)
News Herald – Juliann Talkington
“Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure.” ~Confucius
Children need the wisdom and confidence to make good decisions, the work ethic to exceed expectations, the discipline to stay on task, and the fortitude to recover from setbacks.
The current economic situation in the U.S. makes parenting challenging. In most cases, both parents work. This means parenting is relegated to early mornings and late evenings during the week and weekends.
When a child runs into challenges with academic or extra-curricular activities, maxed out parents look for the most efficient way to solve the problem. In many cases they solve the problem for their child. Even though this approach is expedient, it means the child is deprived of a learning opportunity and is kept from experiencing failure.
We do not want kids to become so overwhelmed that they see success as impossible. On the other hand, we do not want a situation where children have been insulated from failure and leave home unprepared for the missteps that are a normal part of life.
Even though it takes more time and can be aggravating after a long day at the office, it is imperative that parents force their kids take responsibility for their actions. This means they have to allow their children to fail (accept the consequences for poor decisions) whether it is accepting an “F” for a plagiarized essay or sitting on the bench because of unsportsmanlike conduct.
Then it is imperative that parents support their children as they work to recover from poor decisions. For example, if a child submits a plagiarized essay, the parent needs to help the child figure out what to do next. Through a series of questions and answers, the child needs to figure out he/she needs to contact the teacher, schedule a time to meet with the teacher (without the parent present), prepare for the meeting, go to the meeting and apologize for the plagiarism, ask the teacher what needs to be done to correct the problem, and do what is asked.
Making a child accept responsibility might seem harsh and overwhelming, but is the best way for a young person to understand there are consequences for inappropriate behavior and to learn what to do after a mistake is made.
“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” ~Henry Ford
News Herald – Juliann Talkington
Negotiation is a part of the human experience whether someone is trying to come to common ground with a family member on who cleans the kitchen or an employer on salary. As a result, it is imperative for everyone to learn how to negotiate effectively.
It is impossible to become a good negotiator without practice. This means children need age appropriate opportunities to negotiate with siblings, peers, buyers and sellers, and people in positions of authority.
Early in life, most negotiations are related to peer and sibling interactions – who gets the ball first, who gets the colored pencils, etc. Fortunately, family structure and the early education system in the U.S. provide many opportunities for kids to practice these peer-to-peer and sibling negotiations.
By the time children enter middle school, they are ready to learn how to negotiate with buyers and sellers and people in positions of authority. Most U.S. children do not have many opportunities to practice these types of negotiations.
U.S. tweens and teens aren’t involved in many business transactions that require negotiation, however, they have plenty of opportunities to negotiate with people in positions of authority about issues with classroom assignments and grades, sports team and drama and music group tryouts, etc. The issue is parents handle most these negotiations for them.
There is some uncertainty about why parents handle these negotiations for their kids. Some people argue that college has become so expensive that parents want to ensure scholarship money is available. Others believe parents are living through their children.
I heard a story that adds perspective.
A girl wanted to join an advanced sports team that was well beyond her abilities. The girl and her mom discussed the requirements and the possible outcomes. Then the girl trained diligently, asked her current coach for a recommendation, arranged a tryout at the new team, practiced what she would say to the new coach, and went to the tryout by herself. She worked hard and improved at every practice. When the coach told her he was adding national level players to the team rather than her, she asked if she could stay and train.
He was so shocked with her work ethic and ability to advocate for herself that he agreed. Months later when she asked if she might be able to join the team, the coach agreed.
Perhaps parents should reconsider their approach. “Letting go” teaches more and often provides greater opportunity.