Parents – Continue Reinforcing Persistence – Maybe Forever

We already know that parents of pre-schoolers do an amazing job of having their children ready for reading and writing in school and of giving so much encouragement and reinforcement that children have both persistence and an “I know I can learn” attitude. We also know now that parents of pre-schoolers need to start doing for math what they have always done for language. This especially includes the reinforcement leading to persistence. Persistence is an extremely important quality that is necessary for success in school and for success in the future. Unfortunately, there is a problem related to persistence that is, again, going to require involvement of parents.
Some of the problems related to persistence will be solved when we get all parents of preschoolers applying their skills with their children to mathematics. Currently, children are entering school with no math foundation, no sense of “I am capable of learning this” and no skill of persistence because we simply didn’t know that our children were even capable of handling math as pre-schoolers. Now that we know they are, I know that this shortcoming will get fixed given enough time. There is, however, another problem area related to persistence.
Historically, starting school has been treated as a Rite of Passage. Parents turn the responsibility for the education of their child over to the educational system. For language development and writings skills, that arrangement has worked. For mathematics, we know that it has not worked, but there is cautious optimism that starting math education during the preschool years with change that. Schools can be very effective at teaching knowledge.
What schools don’t do a particularly good job of: encouragement and reinforcement necessary for students to stay successful. This is difficult enough to maintain in one child. Trying to do so with 35 students (or 150 students in high school) is virtually impossible, especially with all the focus on testing results. It takes a great deal of time with each student individually to keep a student feeling positive about himself. That necessary time simply isn’t available. Persistence, which doesn’t even exist for learning mathematics, quickly fades in the language areas. Buy the time, our kids reach high school they are missing many of those special qualities that lead to success.
Yes, parents, we need you again. Even though your kids start school, they need you to continue to praise successes, reinforce their effort, stress the importance of their continued persistence, stayed tuned to their emotions, discuss with them frequently their attitudes about school, etc. Always be supportive. Don’t punish if they aren’t successful. Find out why they aren’t succeeding and try to fix it. Do not allow them to quit! Never accept “I can’t learn.” You know they can. You have seen them learn a great deal. They just need to be reminded frequently that they are, indeed, capable of learning. Anyone who learns to walk, talk, read, and write can learn anything. Don’t let them forget this.
Oh, and by the way, you just might have to reinforce persistence all through high school, all through college, and maybe beyond. People so often find it easier to quit than to “give it one more try.” That particular parental role never stops.

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