I clocked thousands of hours in the classroom, but over the past few years, the education I have been getting from my grandchildren has been an eye-opener. It’s also a challenge. After all, I’m an adult and a teacher, so shouldn’t I be showing them what to do?
Well, actually they are teaching me that they have what they need to succeed, and my job is to be sure that I do whatever it takes to sustain those traits. I must not de-rail them from continuing forward on their mission.
It is apparent to me that at birth a child has an inborn desire to achieve, to learn, to be social and to share. They are born with a trillion dollar mindset, (just trying to make a point here – their mindset is priceless!!). If we could ask them if they were ready for college, they would look at us with a face that conveyed, “No problem, let me at it!”
My music teaching experiences included “Parent-Toddler” summer programs (for ages birth-4). I experienced teaching children who would look at difficult music challenges and see themselves succeeding. Failure was not part of their thinking. I once played a melody on a xylophone for a 3 year old and then asked, “Do you want to learn to play that?” Without skipping a beat the child grabbed the mallet from me and said, “I can do that!” That comment became the inspiration for the next twenty five years of my career, to learn how to ensure that learners sustain that mindset.
During their early years children learn with innate character traits that we want them to possess when they are older – confidence, creativity, resilience, and perseverance. These traits are easily lost if not nurtured.
What might we expect from children who are in their teens, contemplating and preparing for college, if in their early ages they were afforded the opportunity to hone the character traits they were born with. What if they were taught to expect obstacles? What if they could do so with a sense of agency and self-efficacy, a confidence that they have what it takes to get past those obstacles and achieve?
Can more be done during the formative years to nurture these character traits and develop a strong foundation mindset for a lifetime of learning?
We live in a time where many young children are brought to day care centers. What if, at these centers, more emphasis could be put on building a strong foundation for a child’s “I can” mindset”?
I was inspired reading about places like the Friend’s School in Boulder, Colorado and their teacher preparation program,
and by learning about mindset from author, Carol Dweck, Ph.D (Mindset; The New Psychology of Success- 2006).
Early-childhood centers are also a place that could model for parents how they could continue nurturing a positive mindset for learning at home.
I look forward to other thoughts, and to how this could help more children prepare for a lifetime of learning.