Despite being brought up by the same people, in the same environment it’s quite common for siblings to develop into very different characters. I mentioned briefly in my post The Quiet Man , the difference in my children’s characters and having spoken to other parents I know this is the case in a lot of families. It has come as no big surprise to me then that this is also the case regarding my children’s approach to learning.
Spud (7) is the logical one. Information goes in, is processed and documented accordingly. This is his brain::
Flump (5) however, well let’s just say she was never quite as interested in her ABCs or 123s. I mean what’s interesting about a bunch of letters and numbers right? Jigsaw’s? Pfff. Join the dots? SNOOOORE. Her brain looks like this, but with more glitter:
I have no doubts that she’s gonna get along just fine in life, she knows her mind, she’s independent, tenacious, funny, perceptive, did I mention tenacious? To be honest, I kind of admire her “Why would I want to do that when I can just get someone else to do the boring stuff for me” approach, however I know this is not going to do her any favours in the classroom.
When Spud started school he was more than ready for it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying he’s a child genius, just that he has a natural interest in learning, or more specifically understanding things. How does it work? Why does this happen? He likes symmetry, order and logic. Plus he’s one of the oldest in his year so he has a big advantage over some of his classmates.
Obviously that’s great and entirely a result of our excellent parenting and encouragement through his early years. Or so we may have thought until Flump arrived. One ‘Baby Einstein’ CD and a few phonics books from Poundland does not a boffin make apparently. Nope, it seems we can take none of the credit when it comes to our son’s thirst for knowledge.
Now it’s relatively easy to encourage a child to be more creative, Spud likes Lego, Minecraft or K-Nex as they suit his little cuboid shaped mind, although if I sat him down with a bunch of crafty bits and NO INSTRUCTIONS he would definitely be out of his comfort zone. Trying to
trick encourage a creative child to think more logically however is a much more challenging task in my experience! How can I help my daughter approach learning in a way that sparks her interest and will give her the mindset she needs to thrive in the classroom and beyond? (This is a genuine question by the way, if anyone has any experience in this field then I’m all ears!)
It’s possible of course to achieve great things without a Masters in Quantum Physics – literally change the world in some cases ( Shakespeare, Einstein, Churchill, Jobs all either poorly educated or dropped out of college) but like any parent I don’t want to see my child struggle through their school days any more than they need to.
It came as quite a relief to me then when I discovered a book by Hilary Wilce,”Backbone: How to build the character Your Child Needs To Succeed“. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have all the answers at the back (I checked), but it does describe “The 6 key qualities that children need to live a fulfilled and successful life” (tell me more!) and shows how parents can help their children develop these qualities. I won’t go into too much detail here as you can check out the link above for more info and the authors credentials etc but in a nutshell here’s what we’re looking at:
- Love – Feeling loved and connected allows children to comfortably develop links with others. Appreciating themselves as a valuable part of the world with their own unique talents and taking their place in teams, being led and leading. Appreciating the world around them.
- Resilience – A resilient child will make friends, ride out setbacks and develop a robust but flexible attitude, giving off an optimistic vibe to which others gravitate.
- Honesty – Living authentically builds trust and allows you to have good relationships with others. Being honest with yourself gives you a clear and balanced view of the world and your place in it.
- Self-Discipline – Children with better self-regulation do significantly better at reading and maths than those who give in to their impulses. It also helps to manage friendships and resist unhelpful peer pressure.
- Kindness – Having a kind, empathetic disposition lifts our mood, improves our health, boosts our image and makes us feel more positive and optimistic.
- Courage – Mental courage (failing then trying again), moral courage (saying no to what is wrong) and steadfastness allow a child to live their life with resolution and direction.
The book explains in more detail the importance and relevance of the 6 values and what parents can do to encourage each one. It’s a thought-provoking read and for less than the cost of a glossy it’s certainly (sadly) more relevant to me than “30 cool ways to wear culottes” these days.
An interesting concept and whether or not it works in practice I think these are all values that we would like our kids to practice in life regardless. It’s also a very short book. I like short books. I mean what’s interesting about a bunch of words anyway?