Does your child struggle to learn new things in school? It’s natural for parents to have the desire to help their children when they encounter difficult things. Whether it’s learning how to ride a bike or master calculus the same principle can be applied: sometimes they have to struggle to learn on their own. The hardest thing for adults is to realize that in order to learn how to do something and to master the skills, the learner must eventually do it on their own. This means that adults have to learn to take a step back and let the child struggle a bit on their way to success.
Take your hands off and allow kids to struggle to learn on their own
In order for a child to ride a bike you have to let go of the seat and let them balance on their own. Yes, they may fall a few times, maybe even a lot of times and you’ll be there to help them get back on and try again.
As kids struggle to learn adults can provide encouragement
They might cry and get angry out of frustration and you’ll be there to encourage them to not give up and to see that with practice they CAN do it. Allowing kids to struggle while they are learning something new does not mean adults should not be involved at all. They play an important supportive role in the learning process.
Don’t do it for them! Letting kids struggle helps them learn
Your child may even beg you to put the training wheels back on and you may want to. Wouldn’t that be easier for everyone? But at the end of the day, when they finally master their new skill and can successfully ride around the block on their bike, they will feel so much more confident having accomplished something on their own.
Once you really learn it, you don’t forget, even if it was a struggle to learn
The amazing thing about learning how to ride a bike is that once you learn how to do it, you rarely forget. Learning in school works the same way.
Give students a chance to practice, make mistakes and learn
If the teacher explains a new math concept and shows students how to do it on the board, chances are the students won’t be able to do a similar math problem on their own. This is why teachers assign schoolwork that allows students to practice doing the math problems in class.
Homework is meant for the students to do, not the parents!
Homework is also assigned to give students the opportunity to practice the new skill even more. If your child is struggling to learn a new concept and has difficulty with homework assignments, you aren’t doing them any favors by completing their homework for them. They need to struggle to learn the new skills, and once they do, they will be able to do well on tests and future assignments without asking for your help.
If you are interested in finding out more related to this topic you can read this recent article written by Annie Murphy Paul that discusses when and how to let learners struggle. Remember, by allowing your child to struggle during the learning process instead of rushing in to help them you are actually giving them an opportunity to learn even more!