It may seem obvious for many reasons why to keep your kids learning of the summer but I wanted to share two compelling reasons I have recently discovered.
The first is Character.
We all want to build strong character traits in our children, right? That is the foundation and primary objective of our dojo and hopefully why you are here. I have been on an insatiable quest to figure out how to quickly and effectively develop character in children. We already know character can only be developed through hardship, struggle and failure. Your child has to experience, at a highly emotional level, the feeling of losing, of making mistakes, of failing. If everything in their lives comes too easy and quick they can never learn character traits like hard work, courage, discipline, persistence and perseverance.
So back to learning over the summer and character. Along with hardship and failure, I have also discovered character really starts with “habits”. The thing to remember is every single character trait begins with just a habit. So every habit matters!
Children are developing habits all the time. Are they good habits or bad habits? You can take charge and choose their habits for them or you can let them choose.
How hard is it to go back to work after a two week vacation? How hard is it to go back to working out at the gym after a two week break? Just imagine what it’s like going back to school and learning again after a child has been sleeping in every day and playing video games for three months?!
But you can take advantage of the summer instead of letting the summer take advantage of you. There are many strong valuable habits you can start forming such as “continuous learning and growing”, “hard work”, becoming “self directed and motivated” and “discipline”.
Kids do not need “time off”! This lowers their capacity to do hard things and things they do not like to do. Let them have some fun over the summer but also make sure to include daily things they do not want to do, like reading or chores around the house. Remember a key factor for a person’s success in life is their ability to delay gratification.
Most parents also unintentionally teach our children that learning and growing is something that is turned off and on. We turn off the learning in June then have to restart the learning in September. Any wonder why most adults never read another book after high school or college? All highly successful people know that learning is a continuous and never ending process. It is true “Readers are Leaders”!
Here is the second reason and may be even more compelling. You want to develop a “Growth Mindset” in your child.
I don’t have room in this article but if you want to learn more see the book “Mindset – The New Psychology of Success” by Carol Dweck. To summarize, a fixed mindset is where you believe you are born with given smarts and talents. Then what drives you is validating or proving it. You try to ace tests and be the best athlete on the field. As a result you hate and fear failure. On the other hand, with a growth mindset, you believe you have much to learn and you are a fraction of your full potential. Here you love tests and athletics because you learn and want to grow from them. You do not fear failure and losing at all. You see them as valuable opportunities to grow and get better.
So what does this mean? One of the primary prerequisites to developing character is you must have a growth mindset. If you have a fixed mindset you believe you cannot get any better and just have to prove how smart and talented you are. This will actually cause you to do things that work against building character like cheating to score higher or win, lying to cover up a mistake or getting upset and saying “the referee’s were blind” when you lose. Only with a growth mindset can you develop character because in order to develop character you must first begin with the attitude of “I can and will be a better person”!
So why keep them learning over the summer? Not so they do better in school. But so they develop the two things essential for success and happiness – Character and a Growth Mindset!
“Prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child.”
See at the dojo and over the summer,
P.S. – Watch for details on our mandatory Summer