Students oftentimes need a push, a nudge, even a shove (not literally) to achieve their goals. It may be in the form of specific praise, encouraging words, a positive phone call home, constant feedback. One behavior-tracking app a colleague just showed me was "Class Dojo," where the class can earn points for who's on-task.
At home, these 'pushes' can be a little tricky. When we had Jason, one of our hopes and dreams for him would be to have as many opportunities to explore his likes/dislikes, talents, interests, etc. Well, the more we talked about it, the more we thought about the various ways parents go about this 'push.' Some parents let the child explore on their own, with little intervention. Other parents push their own interests on their kids. Still other parents see what kids like, and help them pursue.
The Talent Code says that it takes 10,000 hours for someone to become an expert at something. So, that means you start young.
My questions then become: how much do we push? When do we back off? What regrets will we have later on?
Jason's basketball story: Even before he could walk, we would watch his dad play ball. Soon, he got his first toy hoop and loved aiming, shooting, dunking. Then came a bigger toy hoop, and eventually an outside hoop. His focus and determination with every sport (as in a previous post) is evident. We signed him up at the age of 4 for classes at the community center. From there, he played in 2 non-competitive leagues, and honed his skills and strategies. He loves playing with his friends and making new friends along the way. Jason's favorite part of basketball is getting to the hoop and shooting. He always keeps his head in the game. His first competitive league this season could have gone better, but we're using it as a learning experience.
Jesse's acting story: Summer of 2013, the Disney channel aired its version of "Grease"/"Back to the Beach": "Teen Beach Movie." Singing and dancing to every song, Jesse made us smile. We already knew that he picks up moves/songs easily, but this time, we saw this as an opportunity to cultivate this interest. Browsing the local community center magazine, I came across a local theater company about to start a production, with rehearsals on Mondays and Wednesdays. Jason's basketball practices are Mondays; how could we do both?
Two weeks later, a schedule change opened up, and we split up, taking the kids to their different activities. Jesse had missed 5 rehearsals by this time; we knew he might not be as comfortable, having missed learning names, faces, rules, songs... So we just wanted to see if this was something he'd like. After roll-taking and a warm-up game, the "Nouns" song came on. Jesse stood up with the rest of the class, looked to the kids on his right, and picked up the moves just like that! His timing was a little off, but he was catching on quick. By the third song, he was singing the word "Adjectives." Adjectives! We knew this was where he needed to be.
Both boys have expressed their continued interest in these hobbies. If their interests change later on, we will support whatever makes them happy. I will wonder, though, if they grow up and reflect, "I wish they had pushed me more." Hopefully, we can continue pushing without shoving. Bury "boys will be boys."