5 Tips on Teaching Your Child a New Skill

In an increasingly competitive and changing world, it’s more important than ever to teach children the skills they need to independently navigate through life. In recent decades, parents and teachers appear to have put more focus on children than any other time in history to better prepare them for the challenges ahead.  Properly teaching your children how to face new challenges, in addition to showing them love and praise will better prepare them for their futures.  Whether you’re teaching your children how to read or swim, here are some tips that will help make the learning process much more effective:

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Focus on one area at a time
We’ve all been there, with endless lists of goals to improve upon, jumping from one project to the next. Not only does it create confusion, none of the goals seem to moving forward as we are dividing finite resources in various directions. While life does not present us with challenges in single file order, we should respectively teach our children how to apply focus and prioritize challenges. Spend some time evaluating which goal is most important for your child to move forward with, singling out the task required to achieve the next step and work on it until you and your child feel it has been completed.  Do not overwhelm them with multiple skills at one time; try to keep it simple and focused. Prioritize the most important goal.  However, choose a task within that goal that your child has the best chance of succeeding at, as this will foster motivation to continue with more challenging task.

Break down larger task into manageable steps
Any goal can easily be broken down into smaller parts. With proper planning and patience, even the most difficult goals are doable for most people; they simply require persistence. Instead of telling your child how to start swimming, teach them how to approach the water, practice breathing, floating, and so on.  This makes the task more approachable and provides a framework for progress.  As your child achieves his or her first goal, compliment and gently push them towards the next step.

Set Deadlines
Since the goal is ultimate achievement, you wouldn't want to spend several months teaching your child how to learn a new skill. Therefore, set deadlines to achieve certain goals to keep the process moving along at a steady pace. Tasks with indefinite deadlines tend to also get lost by the wayside in favor of more enticing distractions. Sticking with one scheduled task at a time will teach your kids the value of completing things in a timely fashion but it will also provide a point for you to evaluate what works and reasons why certain goals cannot be met within a set time frame. 

Keep Track of Progress
Find a way to keep track of your child’s progress, preferably in a way both of you can view and understand. This will help you and your child to see how far you have come already and what else needs to be done. With most goals in life, tracking them will help you to understand if any success has been achieved in a tangible way that can be evaluated. If your child isn't progressing in a particular area, find out what needs to be done to help him along. This doesn't have to be a complicated process involving cryptic graphs or charts: a simple list or calendar with measurable quantities should suffice, as long as you commit to recording things regularly. Find the best system that works for both of you.

Have Patience
Last but not least, have patience.  Remember that the end goal is to effectively teach your child a new skill, and also prepare him or her to successfully meet new challenges in the future.  You want to build their confidence and also cultivate a love for learning and success. Being impatient, angry, or unreasonable will make your child less likely to associate positive feelings with learning. It’s also important to keep in mind some children take longer than others to reach certain goals, but with the right attitude, patience, and persistence they will eventually find success.
About Author: Brett Callan  is a writer for Murray Callan, a locally owned swim school that has been family operated for over 60 years. Their San Marcos and Carlsbad swim lessons offer customized support for children throughout San Diego. He loves to enjoy the San Diego weather whenever he can, whether from the beach or at a pool.

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