Along with providing a solid academic program, one of our primary goals as educators should be teaching students to work through challenges, deal with disappointment and hardship, and help them achieve realistic goals they have set for themselves.

Observing the runners in the Gate River Run made me think of what it must be like to run a race. Participants who make it to the finish line are the ones who persist in training regardless of weather conditions or how they feel. They learn to pace themselves and handle slumps, engage in positive self-talk during tough times, and adjust expectations to fit reality. I don’t pretend to be a runner, but I do have goals that relate to other interests. The quote I refer to when I feel over whelmed is, “A thousand-mile journey begins with one step.” It gives me the courage to try.

I think our children experience an attitude of “can’t do” rather than “can do” more often than we would like to admit. So, we must be intentional about how to help them develop a Growth Mindset. If you haven’t seen the bulletin board outside the IDEAStudio, stop by soon to see how the children define a Growth Mindset. It’s the mindset to understand, that with effort, they have the power to grow, learn, and change.

Sometimes children (and adults) just need a little bit of encouragement to overcome an obstacle. As parents and teachers, we need to teach positive self-talk. Instead of encouraging statements such as, “I can’t do this,” or “I’m not good enough,” give them wording, like “I know I can do this if I just keep at it.” They need to make the connection between effort and achievement. It’s okay to take a break when it gets too tough. The important lesson is to come back and continue to try.

Our goal is for learners to become intrinsically motivated to engage in long-term success. As parents, it is so difficult to allow our children the time to work through a difficult situation. We tend to want to jump in, wipe away those tears, and offer the solution. What parent in their right mind wants to see their child unhappy, right?

I want to suggest that it is so much more meaningful to model persistence, teach positive self-talk, and help them understand that it is through positive self-talk, repetition, and setting realistic goals that we connect effort and achievement. Let your children know that you have high expectations and that you have confidence in their ability to be successful (I said successful, not perfect). The cumulative effect of this mindset will be intrinsic motivation for even greater learning.

Martha Milton
Head of School