Of course you want your child to be happy and successful in the future. But what exactly do we mean if we say that?
Imagine you are looking at your child at the age of 21. (I know – it also leads you to think about how old you’ll be by then too - but give it a go)
What do you want them to be able to do and to know by this age?
* To help your thinking make two lists:
- KNOWLEDGE – think about the the ‘stuff’ you think they will need to know and what you believe is important.
- SKILLS /ATTITUDES – the attributes, attitudes, and abilities you really want them to have at this stage in life.
How long is each list?
Do you have more SKILLS than KNOWLEDGE - or the other way round?
- The things on your list reflect many things you’ve learnt yourself and found useful.
- The things on your KNOWLEDGE list are likely to have the ‘basics’: Literacy, Numeracy and other things you would want everyone to know.
- Some of the things on your SKILLS list are likely to include good communication, maybe to have good physical skills and be adept at the mental ones - like the ability to plan, problem solve and be well organised.
- But - What is on both lists is what you think is BEST for your child.
‘So what?’ I hear you say (I predicted that as well)
Well - what if I said that even if you gave your child everything on your lists - It still wouldn't be enough?
Of course there needs to be a balance of knowledge and skills – one without the other doesn’t make sense.
But – what is really important for your child’s future is UNDERSTANDING.
Understanding comes from making sense and ‘mixing together’ knowledge and skills. These are the light bulb moments that come from children making links and asking questions – making real sense of the world around them.
One of the best ways to help your child is to ask lots of questions and encourage them to do the same.
Dad: ‘Well Sam, how do you like school?’
Dad: Well that’s no attitude to have is it? How are you going to learn anything and grow up to have a good job?’
Dad: ‘Can you imagine if there were no schools? What might happen?’
Sam: ‘It would be great!’
Dad:’ Really? Tell me one thing that you think would be good about it’
Sam: ‘No teachers’
Dad: ‘Do you think you would still learn stuff?’
Dad: ‘So if you didn’t go to school would you just stop learning?’
Sam: ‘Well… No… but I wouldn’t have to do maths and writing for the teacher all the time’
What would you say now if you were dad?
So - what’s the difference between these conversations?
What’s the difference in the amount and style of thinking that Sam has to do in the second example?
Can you see Sam beginning to bring together what he thinks he knows with the skills of listening and reasoning to be able to develop an UNDERSTANDING.
I predict that if you learn to ask great questions and invest the time and patience to help your child develop their UNDERSTANDING then you can confidently predict a future that is bright and successful.