Always be learning
As some of you might know, every time I succeed or fail I evaluate what I did and what I didn't do.
I make changes and plan out the actions I will take next time around.
Every time I have a realization, a breakthrough, experience a setback or learn a lesson, I stop and think how this could be useful in the future to me and others.
How this can help me, help my students and you – parents.
If you do that consistently, you can learn 100s of lessons. Seemingly small tweaks and changes can make a big difference and can have a profound impact on your perspective and your life.
And your child's life.
Here are the top 6 most powerful of the lessons I learned in 2016 that will alter the way you interact with your child.
Your attitude is contagious - it impacts your child.
At a certain point last year, some of my students were doing so well that I became somewhat complacent.
When I realized it I immediately decided to make up for it and I set up new goals for my students.
I apologized to those students for being complacent and discussed with them what we were going to accomplish next. One of those students received 97% on the test following that conversation. Another students proceeded to get 92% on his final.
People are driven by purpose and direction. If you make the goal specific and show the purpose for learning, your child will feel inspired.
A lot of times, when our tutors arrive for the first session, students are a bit reserved. “Math is boring, difficult and this guy wants to teach me something? I don't think so.” What they don't know at that point yet, is that our tutoring is different. We bring the purpose. We bring the party. We bring the clarity. You study with us, “we getting' it in.”
See, people don't follow facts, they follow emotions. Your child does too.
Want to study? Nope.
Want to party? Yes.
What if I made learning feel like party? What if we are on a mission – and you are a part of it?
You need to approach learning with passion, with enthusiasm with energy!
You need to show your child the purpose. Show them that they are learning for a reason, if it challenges them, it's worth the effort!
Your child adopts your attitude.
If you focus on grades and dry, academic approach – your child will lack passion, motivation and drive.
If you focus on challenge, improvement, meaningful goal and make it into a game or a party – your child will ask for more!
Show passion for learning. Show enthusiasm about your child's progress. Show enthusiasm about trying new things. Show enthusiasm about your progress, too! Be a living example. Show enthusiasm about making mistakes! It's better to be in the arena, getting stomped by the bull, than to be up in the stands or out in the parking lot. It's better to try, make mistakes and try again than do nothing.
Make trying new things into a challenge. Treat mistakes with an “oops” attitude. At the end of the day, what happens if your child makes a mistake? Nothing! They can simply try again – smarter.
Clarity is crucial - bring clarity into every situation
Make the goal very specific – your child will be driven.
We, humans, are wired to aim for stuff. That's why sports are so powerful. There is a goal, there is a score. It's a challenge. And thousands of people are going nuts at the stadium, even if they have never even touched the ball.
Help your child be very clear about their goal. What exactly are they aiming for?
For an A or a B? For a high GPA? What does “high GPA” mean? How high is “high”?
I'm giving you a scholastic example but the goal could be anything – as long as it is very specific.
Would you like to “learn spanish”? Maybe...
Would you like to “be able to hold a conversation exclusively in Spanish for 30 minutes speaking confidently with someone from Latin America”? Absolutely!
Can you feel how much more inspiring (and specific) that is?
Make the goal meaningful – to them – your child will do their best.
A lot of times, I get the question: “what are we learning this for?”
With that question unanswered, no wonder your child is not doing well.
Why would they? If there is no point in getting good grades, why should they do well?
Grades are just letters. Why should your child get an A?
Because they need a certain GPA to stay on the team that they love – for example.
Make the reason meaningful to them.
Why is 4.0 GPA meaningful? What opportunities does it open? What doors will be closed without that GPA? How is their life going to be better when they reach the goal?
That's where you need to step in – school system doesn't emphasize clarity and goal setting.
Remember: Just because you think good academic performance is important, doesn't mean your child really understands why! Make it crystal-clear why it is important.
Strip action down to specific, essential steps that will have the most profound impact.
“study more” is vague. And “try harder” is not an actionable step.
Think of actionable steps. “What should my child do?”
Think about this: what would make the biggest difference in your child's results?
There is probably many, many things they could do.
Find 1-3 things that will make a world of difference.
Help them focus 100% on those top things. Make the steps very specific. Leave nothing to guess-work.
Steps should be action-ready: go to office hours on a specific day, at a specific time to meet the specific teacher.
“go to office hours” triggers questions: which ones, what day and it gives your child the choice - to go “next time” and the next time often doesn't happen.
Eliminate guess-work by being ultra-specific.
Action loop is incredibly powerful to become (and stay) confident and consistent
One of the things we do at Learn Vibrant is always “keep the ball rolling.”
Did your child ace the test? That is a perfect opportunity to keep doing what they are doing because it is clearly working. They're on the rise, now is the best time to push! It is only going to get easier.
Did your child ask questions 3 days in a row? – encourage them to ask again today.
When on a roll – keep going!
It's easier to keep going than to start over. Also, and this is huge - action kills fear and anxiety. It might have been hard to start. Your child may not have been sure what would happen, not sure whether the plan would work. Your child may have been skeptical and thought nothing was going to change!
But once they take action, the fear is gone! The first results appear, something is changing, they feel encouraged, we are developing the momentum!
Sky diving is the scariest right before you jump. But once you're in the air – it's pure bliss.
Feel the bliss of action and keep going.
Create successful habits now – when it is easy
Doing their absolute best will help your child discover things about themselves that they won't discover by just going through the motions. And you want them to make these discoveries before it really matters.
During 2004 Olympic Games, Michael Phelps swam the whole race with goggles filled with water.
How? He counted strokes. He trained for special situations like this. Had he decided not to or chosen to figure things out after the goggles were full of water – do you think he would have won the gold or even finished the race? I doubt it.
When the finals, SAT or senior year come around, your child's habits need to be effective and effortless. They shouldn't have to figure things out on the fly, right when their future is on the line.
Your child shouldn't be developing focus during the SAT. They shouldn't be figuring out how to write good essays in their dorm room in college with their roommate blasting music. They should develop those skills right now.
When the time comes to take SAT, move to a different state for college, live in the dorm and juggle athletics, academics, social life and the new environment, you want your child to have successful habits established.
When the things are easy, the natural thing to do is to relax. Everything feels light and slow, there is no urgent reason to work hard. Your child needs your help to think ahead and take advantage of the situation.
It is easier to establish powerful habits when nothing is going on -
Your child should practice focus challenges at home. As a result, during the test staying focused will come naturally.
They should ask questions everyday. As a result, when the hard material arrives they will know how to ask good questions.
They should get fantastic grades on easy tests at the beginning of the semester so when classes get hard, they will know they can handle the material.
Most importantly, your child should challenge themselves daily so that when, in the future, they face challenges that matter – they will know they can handle anything!
Address issues immediately – there are lessons in every obstacle
Your daughter just came home with a bad test score.
Your son didn't turn in 3 homework sheets in a row and he can't make up for it.
It seems like there is nothing you can do about it – well, except to help your child learn from it!
Address the situation immediately.
There are lessons to be learned from every mistake and setback.
There are always adjustments your child can make immediately – why did they get the bad grade?
What could they have done differently, better?
What changes can they make to do better next time?
This is a great point I always use when our students are hesitant to apply the new techniques:
Doing your best is an investment
that takes only one extra step
A lot of times, children are resistant to change. Putting in the extra effort seems like a whole another project.
“I spend 6h in school, do homework for another 4h and do ballet for 3h and you want me to ask questions in class?”
It may feel like there is always more to do, it's like they are running in a hamster wheel.
Present every single addition as an investment that will make everything easier – NOT as an additional duty.
Emphasize the fact that asking questions in class is not that hard, since they are already sitting there! Why not ask a question? Ask questions in class to use that time better and homework will take less time. It is – in fact – an investment.
For instance, putting their phone into a flight mode during studying is not a stab at your teen's freedom. It is going to increase their focus and cut down the homework time even by 2 hours! Again – it is an investment.
Start Right Now
Which one of the above realizations do you like the most?
Take 1 minute right now to think of 1-3 ways you could use it to help your child learn better and do better in the academia and outside.
Let me know what you came up with!
Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or on facebook or twitter.
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