Updated: Aug 11
Did you do the three action steps from the last email?
We are laying out a few powerful steps you can take right now to get your child ready for school. Preschooler parents, remember it is not too early to develop these skills in your child now, well before they enter kindergarten!
You can see the previous articles on the blog page of our website www.ohanakarate.com, but here are the three action steps again:
*Action Step #1: Clarity – Did you write out your family statement and commitment? Remember, people do not lack motivation. They just lack clarity.
*Action Step #2: Environment/Culture – Did you go Back-to-School shopping with your child to set up “their” home classroom?
*Action Step #3: AM Routine – Did you decide on a morning routine with your child? Did you do it yesterday? Remember, the most important part of the day for success is the first hour.
Before we reveal your next simple action step, first a word on habits. Without a doubt, the most powerful skill you can give your child is the ability to develop strong habits. Yes, habit building is skill. So, how long does it take to develop a new habit? Some say 21 days. One of the latest research studies said 66 days. They are all right, but the truth is – it takes a lifetime to develop good habits. In other words, you really have to work on your habits all the time. It is a process, not an end destination. If you let up or get lazy it is easy to lose a habit or gain a bad one. So, do not see this as getting a habit, but instead putting in place a “process” you will have the rest of your life.
Now to your fourth and fifth action step for today. But for review, we are on a three-step path:
Your energy and emotional STATE
What you FOCUS on
Your STRATEGY and action plan
We are now on our Strategy. We have a simple four step strategy:
Make it Obvious – Clarity
Make it Attractive – AM Ritual, Culture/Environment
Make it Easy –
Make it Satisfying –
Today we are moving on to “Make it Easy”.
Believe it or not, we as humans are lazy by nature. The reason dates back to our caveman days. To survive, we learned to choose the options that used less energy. Why? Because we needed to save our energy for the hunt. We tend to gravitate towards things that are easy. We are going to take advantage of this in our next two action steps by “Making It EASY”:
Action Step #4: Optimize for the Start – We have already begun this process but here is what we mean by Optimize the Start.
What most people do when they start a habit is make it too big and too hard. They focus on the finish line instead of the starting line. For example, they might say “I am going to lose 25 pounds by the wedding in six months by running 5 miles a day and cutting out all red meat and carbs from my diet.” Even if you do lose 25 pounds, odds are you will just gain it all back and more after the wedding. If they really wanted to make a true healthy lifestyle change and habit, they could instead use the strategy of focusing on the “Starting Line” to chuck it down and make it easier to succeed.
Here is how it works. The start is the most important and probably the easiest part of developing a new habit. What if this person instead wrote down “I am going to get up at 6:30 every single morning with a smile. I will immediately lace up my running shoes. I will drink two glasses of water then step outside, (or on my trendmill if the weather is bad). I might miss a day but I will never miss a second day, ever!” What is the likelihood they will succeed in changing their life?
So, Action Step #4 is kind of a trick. It is really just Action Step #5 again because this one concept of “Optimize the Start” is so powerful we get to do it twice. Here it is:
*Action Step #4: Optimize for the Start – Make it easy. For now, and even after school starts, put the most energy and focus on the time period from the moment you wake up until the first 20 minutes in your classroom, whether it is at home or school. Master and work hard on this start. You will be surprised. If you master the start of your day the rest of your day will fall in place. If you get off to a weak or inconsistent start what do you think will happen? So, get obsessed with getting to the starting line strong every single day.
Now on to your second step for today:
Action Step #5: Structure and Schedule – By the way, get your child involved in these steps especially if they are older. This stress and struggle caused by this pandemic is actually good for them. It teaches independence, grit and resourcefulness. They are learning they will always encounter problems and obstacles in their life. Dealing with these stresses and struggles will make them emotionally stronger. They just need more practice! Resist “protecting” your child, overly shielding them, or doing things for them. You have probably heard the saying – “Don’t prepare the path for the child, prepare the child for the path.” You can do this by making them a part of the solution and letting them make decisions alongside you.
Here is the action step:
*Action Step #5: Structure and Schedule – Make it easy. While we are focusing most of our energy and attention on the start of the school day, we still need to make sure the rest of the day’s schedule is easy. How do we do this? The schools are already doing a good job figuring out how to best structure and set up your child’s school day both in school and at home. They know they need to schedule breaks, downtime and physical/other non-academic activities to care for their social, emotionally and physical needs. So, alongside your school and your child’s teacher, take control of your child’s “work day” schedule and make sure it incudes three elements:
a. Break Time Intervals – Intervals that fit your child. This will differ by age and even by child. You know best how long your child can work before needing a chance to reset.
b. Physical Activity – It will become too easy to just sit in front of a screen or in a chair too long, particularly with social distancing. The schools are already doing this, but make sure to have good structured physical activities during their breaks. In other words, resist just saying “Go play outside”. Free playing is good but do not make it all free playing time. Instead get creative then get them involved in coming up with the activities. I might be dancing to a few favorite songs, seeing who can make the nicest bouquet of flowers, or practicing for their sport.
c. Pleasurable Activity – This one is important. Do not think of this as a reward, but make sure to intentionally schedule in activities in which you child gains pleasure. This is also a part of the final strategy step of “Making it Attractive”. We are drawn to things that bring us pleasure. It can be big or small. You will need to be a detective, but just observe and learn what your child likes. For instance, one of our moms found her kindergartner’s most favorite things to do was to dance with her to the song “Frozen 2”.
Write this daily school schedule down and consider it a working document you will modify and improve as the year progresses.
So, there it is. Make the start of school habits EASY with the two steps above.
Tuesday I will share what may be the most critical step in holding this all together - Make it Satisfying.
There is no reason this can’t be your child’s best school year ever. Leaders don’t make excuses, they make adjustments. Pivot.
Embrace the change. Stay strong.
Yours for stronger kids, Sensei