Options, Opportunities, Opening Worlds...That's what learning should be about.
Regardless of our kids' strengths, weaknesses and affinities - as teachers and parents it is our obligation to teach our kids to seek options in life - choices; to look at problems from multiple perspectives in the hope of finding optimal solutions; of allowing them to see a big, open world full of hope and opportunities. A mighty big order, but not intangible.
Some suggestions how:
- Look at the problem or the opportunity from multiple angles. Brainstorm options.
We moved a lot when my kids were young and each stop they made decisions about schools to go to, activities to participate in, books to read, etc. Don't get me wrong, my husband and I would 'stack the deck' so to speak - only offering choices we were comfortable with, but the choice between (acceptable) options was theirs.
In the Sesame Street video, cookie monster gets to chose between two bags of cookies. It is the same amount of "cookie" - either many small cookies or one large one. Even giving your child these types of options is empowering.
Knowing there are options, opens worlds and doors. Knowing how to make decisions is a learned, acquired skill that requires practice and patience. The more opportunities they have to observe you making choices and to practice their own, the more confident they will be and the better their decision making skills will be.
- Talk decisions out.
When making decisions - big or small - for yourself, you family, or your child - talk it out. be they school options or dinner options, discuss them.
- visit schools,
- visit potential vacation spots online what would they like to do (IF your comfortable with their involvement in this decision - you may just want to ask them which sites they would want to visit IF you go there)
- when shopping discuss options
- organic vs. farmed vs. regular, pasturized vs. ultrapasturized, etc.
There should always be options in life. Help your children comfortably discover and evaluate options.
- Read books and comic books, watch movies and videos that present various perspectives. Here are a few suggestions:
- Goodnight moon (by Margaret Wise Brown) and Goodnight Opus (by Berkeley Breathed)
- The Sons of Liberty comic book and Esther Forbe's Johnny Tremain
- Laika (graphic novel by Nick Abadzis) and October Sky (by Homer Hickam)
- The Scarlet Pimpernel (by Emmuska Orczy), Les Miserable(by Victor Hugo), and A Tale of Two Cities (by Charles Dickens)
- D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths and George O'Connors Olympians series (graphic novels).
- Network to find the best options and opportunities. This is getting both easier and harder. It is easier because things and people are so much more connected with the web, cellphone, etc. It is harder because there are SO many options. Always get references from people you know.
- Don't Overwhelm with options. As I noted above, especially with young kids - stack the options. Give them limited choices you are comfortable with. First, you don't want to overwhelm them, you want to empower them, helping them to strengthen their problem solving skills. Second, you don't want arguments, so if you can live with all the choices you are way ahead of the game.
Options provide opportunities...seize them, guide them, shape them! What are some of the options you provide your kids? Please let us all know in the comments.