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Take a Twirl
Meg Bamford | Head of Miriam School and Learning Center


If at first, you don't succeed, try, try again. Honestly, I think many of us prefer to be a "do-er", not a "try-er." When we begin to learn new skills, we want to do them perfectly the first time. Trying anything new can be tough. It is hard for children to try new things these days. As an adult, phew, it can be even more difficult! Who wants to fall, or fail? I have read that to preserve one's memory, attempting new tasks the older we get makes our brain healthier. Perhaps I better add learning to crochet to my nightly omegas? I believe we need to create an environment for our children where it's okay to take risks, try new things, and even embrace failure. 

Carol Dweck's book Mindset reminds us that when we teach kids, the best part of learning is in the process, not the end product. There are incredible images of brain scans depicting how much we grow when we work to solve new problems or attempt new challenges from knitting to chemistry to ballet. Yet, so many children are afraid to take a twirl, join a new sport, ask a new friend over to play, or even raise their hand in class. Feedback regarding the organization of an essay can be perceived as a personal attack, not the mechanism to help the student grow as a writer. This fixed mindset, or a fear of failure, can become crippling.

How do we help our kids gain confidence in trying something new? I think it is shifting from celebrating the final product, whether it is an art project or a final grade, to celebrating the steps it took for your child to get to the end of the process. Consider celebrating the effort, grit, and creativity your child used to accomplish his goal.

I recommend that you work to integrate attempting new and different things at home. Sample new foods, play a new game or do a riddle of the day. As adults, we carry so much power in how we model what happens when challenges arise.

For all children, especially those who learn differently, it is absolutely critical that we help them to embrace the critical elements of effort, process, and practice. At Miriam, our children have the blessings of creativity, the ability to see details many don't, to think "out of the box", and to do incredible things with their hands when given the right tools. The biggest gift we can give is to teach them to try, embrace the challenge, and persevere. The last year has taught us that we need a generation of passionate problem solvers who can be fluid and flexible in their thinking. We are grateful to be working with 163 of them right now.
 



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Take a Twirl

How do we help our kids gain confidence in trying something new? I think it is shifting from celebrating the final product, whether it is an art project or a final grade, to celebrating the steps it took for your child to get to the end of the process.

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