I offered my grand daughters, Haddie (6) and Kate (7), beginning piano lessons this summer.

IMG_2563I didn’t start out with many expectations. Having never taught piano before, I figured we would all learn along the way. One day I announced to them that they would be giving their families a recital in two weeks. They were excited about the idea until they learned that not only would they play the one-hand-at-a-time pieces they had grown comfortable with, but they would also be playing a piece that required both hands at the same time – something they had not yet tried.
But Oma, I can’t do that,” each girl stated in her own way. That is too hard for me.” Sitting beside them one at a time, I held firmly to the expectation and by the end of the session, both discovered that they actually were capable of learning the two-handed piece. Having grown a bit complacent towards the end of the summer, being stretched was just what they needed. Both the time and effort they put into practice multiplied from that day forward. On recital day, they joined me early to make an Amish cake roll to serve after the performance. The event was a huge success and both girls gained some persistence as well as confidence in their growing skills.  (Both in the kitchen and at the piano!) They are already planning a Christmas recital.

 We all know what persistence is —–working through challenges and not giving up.

And we know that persistence leads to success.
But how do we help our kids grow in it?
It’s actually a simple concept —-by designing tasks that are slightly beyond their capabilities and then expecting AND allowing them to struggle doing something just outside their reach. This can be done with just about anything: academics, sports, music, art, cooking, relationships, you name it.

 Spend some time this week thinking about how you can regularly incorporate stretch into your child’s day.

  • Perhaps your daughter assumes that she can only do math story problems with your guidance and she needs to struggle with doing a few on her own.
  • Maybe you son needs to personally tell his teacher why his work was not completed and not rely on you to send the message.
  • Or is it time to have your children pack their own lunches and/or backpacks, something you have been doing for them?

Think of skills your child needs, and then include challenges into their day that develop these skills.  Not only will they gain persistence but they will also gain confidence and motivation to keep on growing and learning.

Interesting Related Article:  Struggle Means Learning: Difference in Eastern and Western Cultures