Kids have a knack for turning everyday tasks into competitions. Children race to see who can finish their breakfast or be the first one done brushing their teeth. For many kids, the race to be first and the quest to be "number one" continues into the classroom. Children race to see who can complete their worksheets first, race through reading passages, and constantly have one eye on the student seated next to them.
In the classroom, our kids need to understand that comprehension and accuracy are more important than speed, and that "best work" isn't always fast work. A bit of healthy competition can be motivating, but students need to be encouraged to slow down, check for understanding, and do their best work.
Children are not immune to comparison in the classroom. Like adults, kids often forget that they were blessed with talents, gifts, and abilities — and that those abilities may differ from those of their classmates. As parents, we need to remind our children that the goal of school is not to "win" but rather to learn. Encouraging our children to do the best that they can do can prevent them from undue stress and pressure, which can inhibit learning. When children feel pushed to perform in the classroom or fit a certain mold, they may miss out on the joy of learning — and of discovering who they are as learners.
Here are some important messages and reminders to give your children, to help them focus on learning, comprehension, and doing their best.
1. Always make sure you understand the directions for every assignment and/or task.
Read through written directions several times before beginning to work. When you are still unsure what to do, check with your teacher.
2. Ask questions if you aren't sure what you are supposed to do or what is expected of you.
So many children are afraid to ask questions. Remind your children that it is always okay to clarify directions or check for understanding with their teacher. It's better to ask a question and fully understand, than it is to guess and complete work in the wrong way.
3. Take your time.
Remind your children that school is not a race. The first one done does not get a prize. The real prize is learning! Encourage your children to read carefully, think through their answers, and check for understanding.
4. Check your work.
Read through your writing. Double check your math problems. Go back to the text to check your answers. Use whatever resources you have to make sure you did your work correctly.
5. Do what YOU can do.
Don't pay attention to what your classmates are doing. Someone else's best is not YOUR best. Kids learn, think, and create in different ways.
And the most important principle of all….
6. Tell your child: "I am proud of you when you do what YOU can do. You are special and unique, and have ideas and talents like no one else. If you are doing your best work, it's enough."