Back to school. Wow, it has been a whirlwind! This is the time of year when you are getting ready to get back into the swing of things. Summer is over, and it’s time to return to the busy schedule of the school year. For some of you, this is your child’s first ever school year. For others, your child is embarking on his next adventure, whether that be middle school, high school, or even college. By now you have done your back-to-school shopping. But have you taken the time to make sure your child is ready for what’s ahead of him?
My senior class just finished a lecture about the different generations and the way in which they communicate. We discussed the most recent generation: Generation Alpha (currently aged 7 and below). Some things that have been noted in this generation is an increasingly short attention span and a more limited sense of autonomy. These kids are digital natives who will be the most technologically proficient generation we’ve ever seen, but they are lacking certain social and survival skills that will be needed for future success. More and more we are seeing kids who are lacking basic skills necessary to excel in a school setting.
Another generation to note in this scenario would be the parents, a majority falling into the “Millennial” or “Generation X” categories. A few characteristics of these generations is a constant need for feedback and praise. It can be speculated that we (myself included in these age groups) have internalized this need and projected it by giving the children in our lives excessive praise and accommodation, even when it is not entirely deserved or appropriate. In turn, we are seeing children who are expecting praise for finishing their lunch first, doing three half-hearted push-ups, etc.
This becomes a problem when children are not expected to be able to handle hard tasks. When they receive praise for simple tasks, children are not incentivized to strive for more praise by completing harder tasks. This might seem alright when they are really little and can be helped through each and every challenge, but eventually (sooner rather than later) your child is going to face a difficult challenge alone and he will either succeed or fail. While we do believe that learning to fail is important, especially for gifted students, a child who regularly fails will fall behind his/her classmates.
Empower your children to take on tough challenges. Allow them the opportunity to fail at home before coming to school. By doing this, you are teaching them how to handle situations outside of their comfort zones. Learning these lessons now will help set them up for future success and will allow them to feel ready to face hard situations in their lives