As we start the school year, everyone wants to be set up for success. Teachers clearly explain expectations, share syllabi, and map out students’ path to a productive, successful year. We want that for all of our students (and their parents)! But what if we told you there are benefits to failing, too?
Surely, none of us are strangers to the fear of failure. It’s much more comfortable – as an adult or a child – to stick with what you know and shy away from challenges that may reveal just how much you don’t know. But when we value achievement more than we value learning, our worldview, experience, and sense of self shrinks.
A quick search turns up lots of compelling speakers and experts sharing benefits to failing. At Self Development Academy, we agree that there is value in the struggle, and being a lifelong learner is a journey well worth the risk of failure. As parents, you can encourage your children to embrace intellectual bravery. Consider these tips:
Change what you praise.
Instead of showing off report cards or tests on the refrigerator, display problems your students are proud of solving – or even better, problems they are still trying to solve. Whether it’s a math equation they haven’t mastered, a self-portrait in progress, or a challenging musical piece, highlighting the process and not the destination will be motivating and validating.
We are never done learning, and we should never be out of questions. How does this work? Why did this happen this way in history? Where do we see these patterns in other areas of life?
Share your own failures.
That dinner you scorched or the house project that ended in splinters and frustration? Your work presentation that bombed? Your children see how you react. Being positive and believing in your own potential goes a long way in cultivating those skills in your children.
Help them embrace the struggle.
When they hit the wall in math, a particular subject becomes boring, or they don’t see any progress in their skills, assure them that this is part of the learning process. There are a lot of ways to embrace the struggle. It’s OK to take a break OR to push through. Switch gears by going to a museum or watching a documentary. Go back a few steps and review material they feel more comfortable with.
Name strengths and weaknesses without shame.
As your students learn and try new things, they will naturally be drawn to study and practice what they are good at. Help them to realize that everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and their value as people doesn’t depend on those things. It’s OK and healthy for your child to be aware of her gifts and areas she struggles. There is power in that knowledge when there is no shame in failing.
If you are looking for a school that values lifelong learning and understands the benefits of failing, contact us at (480) 641-2640 or (602) 274-1910 to get more information about our K-8 nationally awarded charter school of excellence with an advanced learning curriculum. In addition to online learning, we have campuses in Phoenix, Glendale, East Mesa, and Mesa.