Sunday, August 7, 2011

Who's the Motivated One?---Parent or Child?

This past week at a local community college, I once again had the great pleasure of teaching four different classes of gifted students (from Kindergarten to Grade 8). It was a wonderful experience that I will not soon forget. One of courses was an exploratory French class for Gr. 3-5. The students were very motivated and wanted to know how to say everything en français. They successfully learned the French alphabet and les numéros 0-100 as well as useful phrases and greetings in the language. I was very proud of them on Friday when they were successfully able to play Bingo in French. It was evident that each of the children in this class had chosen to register for the class.

Another class was for young inventors in Grades 5-8. My students conducted online patent searches, created patent drawings, and some even had time to make prototypes. These young people were very internally motivated and developed ideas that would amaze many adults. I was very proud of them as well! All but one student had chosen to enroll in this inventor class on their own, without parent coaxing.

Finally, there were two classes about critical-thinking and problem-solving games and puzzles. All students in both classes created a board game promoting these skills. In one class, nearly all children had personally chosen to register for the class. However, in one of the classes, only a few of the students had freely chosen to take the class. The children had mentioned at the beginning of the week that their parents had “just signed them up”.

You might be able to imagine the difference in the two classes by the time Friday arrived. The level of learning, the quality of work, the attitudes, and behavior were all noticeably different between the two classes throughout the week.

What’s the moral of this non-fiction story? Whenever a new opportunity for your child presents itself, whether it is academic, social, or athletic in nature, please ask about your child’s interest in that opportunity. You may be surprised that she has her own opinion, and as her parent, carefully listen and consider her input. Then make the decision together about participating in that opportunity. You (and she) will be glad you did! The level of success experienced will be significant if she is the one committing to the opportunity---rather than you.

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