If you’re a parent, can you think back to the moment when your children learned to walk? What can we learn from these “Come to Momma!” and “Come to Daddy!” experiences that’s relevant elsewhere? So much! For example, what if we didn’t use the word “mistake” as often as we do? Listen and learn. As always, thanks for your interest.

Communicating About Academic Challenges

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You know by now, if you’re a reader of this blog, that all of us at Celebrate Kids believe children are smart in eight different ways. So are adults! All of us have all eight intelligences in different amounts. For instance, I’m much more word, logic, and people smart than I am nature and picture smart.

So what do we do when our children appear to have legitimate academic challenges?

We still look for how they are smart. We must know their academic strengths and talk with them about them or they will not know to use strengths to overcome weaknesses.

For example, as I’ve written about before, spelling doesn’t come easily to me even though I’m very word smart. So, I use a thesaurus to look up a word I know how to spell in order to find one I can’t spell. Knowing how I’m smart empowers me to do this. (I can look up “beautiful” to find “gorgeous.” Why is there an “e” in that word??!!??)

Don’t let them think they’re stupid. Help them understand that when something is challenging or hard, it doesn’t mean they are “stupid.” Don’t let them call themselves that and help them carefully disagree with anyone who does. Help them find a satisfying way to express their academic challenges when it’s necessary. I might say something like “Spelling isn’t easy for me because picture-smart and nature-smart are not my strengths.” Or “It’s hard for me to concentrate when reading some fiction because I’m not very picture-smart and I don’t see the action as I read.” Or someone might say, “Math isn’t easy for me because I don’t have as many brain cells in that part of my brain as I wish I had. But, I’ll use the ones I have!”

Just Watch and Listen

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On the way to the grocery store, a friend’s son asked if they could rent a movie from the Red Box he knew was outside the store. After thinking about their schedule, she decided it was okay.

After parking the car, my friend and her son waited behind a girl she estimated to be 14 or 15. When this girl realized the Red Box did not have the movie she wanted to rent, she loudly proclaimed, “I hate my life!!!” and stormed off to a parked car. My friend heard her complain bitterly to the driver, actually trying to place blame on her for choosing such a “stupid Red Box.”

Have you ever wondered how to determine whether someone’s security is healthy? Just watch and listen.

I’m just sad for this girl. To hate her life simply because a movie wasn’t available seems a bit extreme. Where does she have her security? Possibly in getting her way, in having fun, in escaping into movie plots, …

Just watch and listen.

Yesterday, sitting a few rows in front of me in church was a high school girl. Although she used to sit with the youth one section to the right, since her parents began attending three weeks ago, she sits with them. During one worship set, I noticed her parents holding hands and her dad holding his daughter’s hand. That’s security. That’s healthy.

Just watch and listen.

It’s never pleasant to feel dumb, is it? Yet, something we often do to children can make them feel that way. This leads to discouragement, frustration, and a lack of trust. Would you like to know what to change? It’s not hard. Listen to learn. Guess what? My ideas aren’t just relevant to school, but to life as well. I use an example of wounded warrior heroes from Iraq to drive that point home. I hope you’ll listen.

Embrace The Imperfect Student – A “No More Perfect Kids” Reflection

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Randy Thomas is blogging for me today. I’m sure he’ll inspire us and give us much to think about. I’m grateful for his friendship and role on staff as the Celebrate Kids’ Online & Social Media content manager.
I am honored to be blogging here today! Lately, I have been reading No More Perfect Kids by Dr. Kathy Koch and Jill Savage. The story below tumbled out and onto the screen after reading the first chapter of their excellent book. I hope you will see the value of how a teacher can embrace an imperfect student, help affirm their innate gifts, and set them on a positive course. Mrs. Pierson has always been a personal hero of mine. I am sure you will see why.

Mrs. Pierson had this completely ’80’s longish bob hairdo thing going on. This was of course completely appropriate because the scene I am going to describe happened in 1984. She also dressed like a college professor (in my mind) even though she was my 9th grade civics teacher. I wouldn’t say she was overly gregarious, but she always seemed super-smart, confident, and calm. For many reasons, I loved her and that class. In all of my school years, civics was one of the very few classes I felt eager to attend. I never hesitated to raise my hand and answer the questions she would ask.

I loved the subject and I loved seeing her eyes light up in recognition of my eagerness.

Even when Tip, the kid in front of me, would blow spit bubbles randomly in the air, I was always focussed and enjoyed that class. Tip was cool too.

Inspire Academic Improvement By Resisting The “Perfection Infection”

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It happens often. I bet you do it. I totally understand and yet I hope my insights encourage you to stop. Curious? Keep reading.

When you empty your children’s backpacks or go through their school folders looking at their daily work and returned tests, do you ask, “How did the other kids do?”

As soon as we ask, we’ve decreased our children’s security. Suddenly they feel as if it’s not really about doing their best, even if that’s what we said as they headed to school. No, in reality, it appears we care about how they stand in comparison to their peers. But is that wise? Necessary?

For example, your son may have earned a 92% and been thrilled because the test was challenging. When you ask, “How did the other kids do?” you imply the 92% is only good if it’s a better score than most of his peers earned.

Your daughter may have earned a low score and she’s already feeling badly about it. She’s not looking forward to you finding out and now you’ve put additional pressure on her. Now she may feel the score is even worse because it’s among the lowest in her class. Having to admit this to us may not motivate her to do better next time.

Constantly comparing our kids to others causes our encouragement to “do your best” and “concentrate on yourself; don’t worry about others.” to fall on deaf ears. They’ll stop believing us. They may get angry. These comparisons violate the key identity that they’re unique miracles. Comparing them can negatively affect peer relationships.

Kathyism #74 – “Meaningful Engagement After School” – Talking with children about their school day is important, but it can be stressful. We become interrogators, our questions may not be the best to ask or easiest to answer, and some children and teens resent us for asking. Therefore, Dr. Kathy suggests questions worth asking that children will be more willing and able to answer. Learn how you can even make a game of it with your full participation.

The Truth About Learning: Every Child Is Smart

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There’s a blog being shared on Facebook that you’ve perhaps seen. The headline is “The Learning Myth: Why I’ll Never Tell My Son He’s Smart.”

If you’re familiar with multiple intelligences and the ways I approach them, you know I disagree. Strongly.

“Smart” is a power word. All children need to know they’re smart. It’s even better if they know how they are smart. This knowledge is more believable, practical, and useful.

If children don’t believe they’re smart, they won’t know they can behave as if they are. They’ll think their brothers, sisters, and peers are the smart ones. They’ll be more susceptible to being bullied. They may develop academic apathy. They’ll apply less effort. They’ll look at something new or challenging and think, “Why bother? I’m not smart. It will be too hard.”

What point is the other blogger trying to make? Effort makes a difference. He and his company are afraid kids who are told they’re smart won’t persevere or use other character qualities when they’re unsuccessful. They’ll just blame their lack of intellect or talent and give up.

Sometimes, with good intentions, parents will send their children off to school with a statement like, “Have Fun!” There’s a problem with that statement however and in today’s video, Dr. Kathy Koch explains why and what to prepare the children for as they head back to school.

Why Do Kids Make Mistakes? (Book Excerpt From “No More Perfect Kids”)

I sure hope you’ve had an opportunity to purchase, read, and learn from my new book, No More Perfect Kids, that I was privileged to write with the brilliant Jill Savage of Hearts At Home. Here’s another excerpt you’ll benefit from. (Last Monday, I posted an important section of ten ways to encourage children. Check it out, too!)

Let your child knowWhy Do Kids Make Mistakes?

An excerpt from No More Perfect Kids by Jill Savage and Dr. Kathy Koch

Does it ever feel like your child does more wrong than they do right? As a parent, we know our kids aren’t failures. They can fail a quiz here and there, not win a tournament, and not earn a raise during their first job review, but none of that makes them failures.

They will make mistakes, though, because they’re human! To best help our kids overcome their mistakes and not feel like failures, we need to understand why they make mistakes. When a parent understands, it increases their compassion and decreases their frustration. As you listen closely and observe intently for the “why” behind their mistakes, you can know how to best support them. Let’s explore eight reasons kids make mistakes.