There are so many great articles on teaching grit in the classroom. Many of them provide tools that can apply outside of the classroom for parents as well. This is a list of my some of my favorite suggestions from Vicki Davis who wrote an article on Edutopia called, “True Grit: The Best Measure of Success and How to Teach it.” http://www.edutopia.org/blog/true-grit-measure
I found the suggestions presented on how to teach grit in the classroom have been great suggestions for me to teach grit to my kids (especially this summer since we are spending so much time together). Here are some of Vicki Davis’ suggestions in her article and ways our household has embraced them this summer:
Read books about grit
It’s all about summer reading right? I start by defining what grit means so it makes the most sense to my kids. The current definition we collectively came up with is, “Not giving up on something. Sticking with something for a long time until you are super good at it or reached the top.” I am sure their definition language will change over time but for now this makes the most sense. With my younger one, we look for stories that promote grit and perseverance. For my older one, I encourage him to take some time to tell me a little about the characters in in the books he’s reading. I ask him, who are the gritty characters? Why do you think that? These discussions have made summer reading much more interactive for me and my older one especially since he prefers to read on his own nowadays.
Talk about grit
The term “grit” has really grown to become a part of my kid’s vocabulary. Sometimes we substitute it with, “A don’t give up attitude.” We talk a lot about why grit is important. We talk about how things (no matter what they are) are not always going to be easy to accomplish. Whether it’s organizing your toys in your room, or learning a song on the guitar, certain things take work and it takes a positive attitude.
Sharing and talking about the problems you encounter on the road to accomplishing something makes the journey more doable. Still my oldest grows so frustrated with certain tasks sometimes and is resistant to ask for help or express it. In those moments, he so more likely to give up. I work on telling him that he can share his frustrations and problems with me and I am not going to think less of him and I’m not going to take it all away from him and do it for him. Instead we are going to talk through it and it’s up to him to ask for help/support. Fostering grit is a dialogue. It’s not something we do to kids. It’s something we do with kids.
Help kids develop a growth mindset
Here’s a favorite quote I found recently, “Growth mindset teaches students that the brain is like a muscle and that with regular exercise, intelligence and capability will grow. Students in this group learned not to be discouraged by frustration and early failure, and to stay the course and keep ‘exercising.’” My daughter grew discouraged at one of her swimming lessons because she wasn’t able to finish swimming freestyle properly for a certain number of laps. She had never done that many before. Her instructor was great in that she commended her for doing what she able to do having never done that before. My daughter approached the next lesson and those after that with more of a “growth mindset” as she worked one step closer to each time to completing the ultimate number of laps. She has been positive and leaves each lesson saying she did the best she could and would work even harder next time.
Strive to model grit qualities and characteristics for your kids in your everyday life. Show them what hard work looks like and what it looks like to bounce back from a setback. Even how we manage/juggle our day –to-day schedule of work and home takes grit. Our actions; both verbal and nonverbal speak so loudly to our kids. They know exactly what we think about grit through our actions.
Foster safe circumstances that encourage grit
Be sure to let kids know their hard work leads to something great! Take time to celebrate your kids and their accomplishments. Show them that their setbacks they may have encountered along the way eventually leads to something great! When we celebrate accomplishments in our household, it creates a tremendous amount of hope in my kids for future endeavors.