(BPT) - Every child learns best when they have the courage to explore, to ask, “what if…?” and to take small risks. By creating and testing their ideas without fear, by constantly remaking and remodeling, they are paving the way for a breakthrough moment. It is important for parents and teachers to embrace this discovery and uncertainty both in the classroom and at home to develop a child’s confidence and ability to persevere.
These five tips will help you support the children in your life and encourage them to explore, try new things and follow their curiosity.
1) Try and try again.
Serve as a role model and be willing to take risks and make mistakes yourself. Show children that it is okay to try something and then switch directions if it doesn’t work. Embrace and teach iteration from the engineering design process, as kids are encouraged to try several things and keep working and reworking toward the best possible solution.
2) Design. Test. Modify.
Presenting kids with open-ended problems is a great way to encourage risk taking. Rather than having them work toward something with one, concrete answer, encourage them to “Design, test and modify and keep working to find the best solution, not just the first solution,” says Jennifer Nash of LEGO Education, an organization that has decades of experience providing students with playful, hands-on learning experiences that foster the “Design. Test. Modify.” mentality.
3) Facilitate, don’t demonstrate.
When you do something and tell kids to mirror your actions, you are teaching nothing but repetition. Instead, give them the tools they need to solve the problem, but let them go through a trial-and-error process on their own to reach the solution.
4) Embrace the journey, not the destination.
Encourage kids to talk about how they got to a solution, not just what they created. What did they try that worked, and what did not? What did they learn throughout the process? By framing each step as a learning opportunity, it removes the pressure of reaching one final, correct answer and will make them more likely to take smart risks in the future.
5) Take time to reflect.
Failure can be disheartening, especially for a young child. Rather than dwelling on the negative, make sure you are encouraging kids to take time to reflect when things do not go as planned. When kids look at failures as learning opportunities, they will not be afraid to take risks to achieve success.