Parents, Be Ready to Fail a Few Times and Get Back Up
Be Ready to Fail a Few Times and Get Back Up
It’s easy to give advice, harder to take your own. Case in point, my perfectionist son hates practicing new piano pieces because they sound terrible. I am usually sitting next to him comfortably (fingers not on the keys), telling him, “Practice makes perfect,” or “Try, try again.” Sometimes he is in tears, sometimes in rage, on the rare occasion he works through a new piece without pain. Either way, it takes a few terrible goes for it to begin to sound like a song.
Today, I find my voice repeating my own advice, “Try, try again,” as I try to find a working system for our new 24/7 learning with the kids. I’ll admit, much like my son at the piano, there are days I work through tears, others where I work through rage, and the rare day where things go smoothly to my amazement.
I share this, because I’m sure many of us have picture perfect image of the classroom at school. Somehow the teachers are able to get the kids to sit and do what we can’t even get our kids to even look at a home. News flash, days are not always perfect, and our classroom looks very, very different from the classroom at home.
Here’s a two second snapshot my home. Picture me, trying to coax my four-year-old to read out “ant” to me, but she has recently been discouraged from anything remotely desk learning because two days ago I tried to get her to do a workbook that was above her level. At the same time I am pointing to the list of academic exercises that I thought my elder two and I had agreed on, but somehow they are reluctant to start as they have other more “urgent” things to do at that very moment. And in the middle of the room my two-year-old is starting to smell like he needs diaper change.
Unlike the school environment I have multiple ages in my classroom, desk learning is considered “boring,” I haven’t worked in the incentives of grades, nor have I the same presence as a teacher standing in front of sitting students, peer pressure doesn’t work, and there are other things like cooking, cleaning, showering, all important, but not overtly academic things that have to be considered in the daily routine, not to mention character lessons like sharing instead of grabbing, apologizing after accidents and hurt feelings, and learning how to grow our spirit and hearts through challenges.
So, my older two and I have discussed and agreed to go with the “Try, try again,” method. We understand that there will be good and bad days, but that we will work together towards our long-term goal, even if the path looks pretty precarious at times. We openly communicate on what is working and what is not.Of course “Try, try again” works for our family, but if you aren’t the type to commence without a plan, you can try, “Practice makes perfect,” or another friend of mine suggested Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDAC), an assessment cycle her husband uses at work.
With whatever method, one thing is clear, as parents we have to expect the occasional, or frequent sour notes in our songs. Rather than fear them, or grind ourselves down, we should see them as growth opportunities for us to try something different in our quest to find what works. (I’ll put in a disclaimer – life is very organic in our home, so a working system lasts for about a week before we have to adjust. Sour notes are a regular occurrence in the symphony (or cacophony) of our home.)
Pan back to my household one hour later: I have negotiated with my daughter to try alphabet flashcards on the ipad that gamifies her learning. She is starting to become comfortable again with letters. My boys have agreed that their “more important” activities can only happen after they have exercised their mind and bodies, and my two-year-old has a clean diaper and is eating an apple so he can work on his next present for me.Enjoy the process of learning about your children and figuring out how they see and experience the world as they learn to become incredible human beings.
I’m sure it will look like chaos at times, but if we keep trying, we will make progress. It’s something new, and like all new things, it will look bad at the first try, if it doesn’t, it’s probably a fluke, your second attempt will look a little more iffy.