Disclosure: This is a collaborative post
Our philosophy of home education is about it being a lifestyle philosophy, and focusing on the child-led approach. It is a great way for children to gain independence, which is something that can be empowering for both the child and the parents. But sometimes, we can find that our children are not as independent or willing to thrive as we hope them to be. In an educational environment, as well as in life, it is crucial to help our children take initiative. It’s a way for them to navigate their lives with optimism and courage. If you are considering home educating your children, or you feel that they are not getting everything they can from traditional education, the missing piece of the puzzle could be about giving your children the tools to use their initiative. But how do you do this?
Why Is Initiative Important?
From our perspective as grown-ups, we are aware of the importance of the initiative. But the big mistake we can make is protecting our children too much. The ability to take initiative is developed in childhood and adolescence, achieved through mastering experiences and relationships that help children to believe in themselves. Encouraging initiative is about helping our children to utilise their positive attributes. In addition, we need to instil positivity during their childhood, such as self-awareness, and empathy. When young children learn to make a difference in their own life, they use their initiative. This is nothing new and has been used in education for decades. The best academic tutors use a variety of techniques to encourage children’s initiative by utilising their inner self-belief. But the ability to take initiative is developed through certain activities that can help children manifest their abilities to thrive. It’s also about internal rewards, such as creativity and autonomy. While we may believe that the overriding goal is about external rewards, this does not provide long-lasting fulfilment. So what can we do to help our children take initiative?
Using the Right Activities
There are three different components that we can introduce to help children take the initiative.
Firstly, children must choose activities for themselves. This gives them internal rewards like autonomy and being able to create their own futures or destiny. When you start to incorporate the abilities for children to make a choice for themselves, it gives them the ability to weigh up the pros and cons and choose what is best for them. However, it is important to be age-specific. If we give our children too many choices at such a young age, this could overwhelm them. The best thing to do is to give them activities as a choice, but making sure you don’t have more than three or four.
The second thing to consider is to make sure the activity takes place in an environment that mimics the real world. The real world provides a plethora of challenges, subtleties, and rules that can be obstacles on a daily basis. If you really want to learn how to overcome a certain problem, the importance of rehearsing this in your mind is why constant repetition can be invaluable. Therefore, when you provide certain activities, you are giving them the opportunity to go beyond the self-imposed protective environment that you provide. Children will face a variety of challenges that go beyond traditional school grades. We’re talking about things like teamwork, and interpersonal conflicts. Playing games is great because it gives your child the opportunity to interact with others, while also giving you the opportunity to deduce if they need more help in blending in with others. We talk about children that are natural leaders, like the firstborn, but it’s usually the fact that we see a child that is bossier rather than a leader, which is a very important thing to distinguish. After all, great leaders are people that can work as part of a team.
Thirdly, when choosing an activity, you need to give them something that they can sustain over a long period of time. This will teach our children to persevere. You may believe that variety is the spice of life, but if you want to teach your children a skill that gives them the opportunity to sustain and build upon a solid foundation, it’s about providing a handful of activities so they can work over it for a long period of time. This gives them the opportunity to experience the peaks and troughs associated with life.
What Are the Right Activities for Your Children?
Regardless of the age, they will have formed certain habits, but you may be concerned that they are not showing initiative. It’s important to remember that this is about playing the long game. We must remember that it’s not necessarily about the here and now, but about helping them to develop behaviours that will contribute to a lifetime of success. Here are some things to consider.
They are a very useful way to teach children responsibility and initiative. Naturally that it’s a great way for you to get help around the house, and it’s one of the ways to help your child contribute to the family as you would as a parent. Offering your child a variety of chores on a weekly basis, but not provide a reward, will help them to use initiative, rather than doing something purely to get a reward. However, if the child is doing something that is not on the list, this is when you can offer praise.
Homework assignments will always be a challenge to initiative. It is important to be age-specific, but the best thing you can do is to allow your children to decide which project they want to tackle first. What you can do if they have a variety of homework is to give them a calendar to show when each project is due. For older children, you can allow them to choose when they will do their homework in the schedule. This means that they may decide to do their homework when it suits them, or push it to the point where they are trying to get out of this. But you need to show them how to schedule work time so that they have more free time. When our children are doing the homework at the last minute, this means they will not be taking initiative especially if we are rushing to help them get it done. In addition, if your child doesn’t know how to tackle a problem with a homework assignment, instead of rushing to answer the question, ask them to take a bit of time to think about it. This is where we can teach them skills such as breaking down a problem. Positive reinforcement works here, especially if you’ve seen them tackle this type of problem before.
This is something that you could do to expand upon their initiative. But if there is a problem the family needs to address, it’s important for you to take a step back. Giving them the opportunities to troubleshoot problems is as important as solving them. This is why it’s so important for you to spend time together as a family, for example, eating dinner together at the same time every day. If the ideal opportunity for the family to be together and for your child to have an audience. In addition, if you ever have problems, you could ask your child for a solution. It’s important, again to be age-specific, but when there are smaller issues at home, for example, if you’ve lost something, you could always ask your child where they saw it last.
Being a Role Model
Of course, we must remember that if we want our children to learn how to take the initiative, we need to make sure they see us doing the same. One of the biggest mistakes every parent makes is telling their children to do something but not actually giving them a reason why. If your children see you conducting tasks with initiative, by allowing for mistakes, and asking others what you can do to help them, these are all little things that will teach your child the value of taking initiative.
Sometimes, the penny will not drop immediately. In order to teach our children the importance of using their initiative, we have to remember it is a long battle. The great thing about the initiative is that it can help our children improve, not just their education, but so many other aspects of their lives. And we have to remember that if we want our children to develop initiative because they’re not showing signs of initiative, is this because they are not getting the right lessons? This goes back to being a role model. If you want your children to use their initiative, in the simplest terms, you must do so as well.