Important Questions About Teaching Skills to a Child

1.  Do kids need encouragement to get good at a skill?

     By all means. Here are some ways to encourage your child.
  • Get your child to talk about how well he can do a skill and what exactly he does best.
  • Tell your child what skill he does really well. Be specific about exactly what he is doing so well. Don’t just tell him he is good at it.
  • Tell others how good your child is at a skill and make sure your child overhears you.
  • Tell your child that someone told you about how good he is at a skill.
  • Display your child’s work all over the place.
  • Ask your child for demonstrations – often and in front of others

 2.  Should there be rules about how a child practices a skill?

      Yes, where safety and responsibility are involved. See One Way Kids Grow Up: Exploration for a discussion about a child’s responsibility to the person paying for his chance to do the activity and to his team, if one is involved. However, there should not be so many rules that your child has no chance to be creative. It is the creativity brought to his activity that will make him move from being good to great at it.

 3.  Should a parent or coach “show” a child how to do a skill better?

       There is a place for do-as-I-do teaching or coaching, especially when a child is first learning. This is necessary to make sure your child knows how to do the skill safely, build her confidence, and prevent the development of bad habits or wrong techniques that will prevent later and greater success.

4.  Should a parent let a child just do an activity, make mistakes, and discover the best way to be successful?

      Once the basics are mastered, the child should have more and more opportunity to discover his own ways to do the skill better. As mentioned earlier, it is the creativity brought to his activity that will make him move from being good to great at it.

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