In her book, Mind in the Making, Ellen Galinsky points out seven essential skills that children must acquire to support their success now and in the future. The sixth of these is Taking On Challenges. Luckily, this is a skill that all of our children have been practicing since birth. Some of the challenges they approach are daunting (walking down the steps as a toddler) and some appear simple (putting on your own shirt).
At school, we try to create an environment where there are many types of challenges to be tackled while providing support for growth. The trick with this is allowing the children to experience the challenge themselves, without solving it for them. Instead, we make sure that we are present to ensure safety and ask questions to prompt deeper thinking concerning solutions. Challenges can be physical, social, logical, and emotional.
Our goal as teachers and parents is to support children as they move through challenges, rather than helping children avoid them. We aspire for our children to see themselves as competent problem solvers. Each misstep is part of the path to understanding and accomplishment. Each successful attempt is another building block in their knowledge.
For more on Taking on Challenges and the mindset required for this skill, check out “Helping Children Thrive When Faced With Setbacks: Lessons from Carol Dweck.”