Thursday, April 26, 2012

Long-Term Side Effects of Not Supporting Your Child's Love Of Science

Most kids love the idea of science – of building things, creating inventions, and getting stuff to work by using their own two hands. Kids have a natural passion for science. The problem comes in when the parent feels they can’t meet this need in their child and they struggle to fulfill it. We’re going to take a look at what happens long-term when you don’t meet this need, and how you can avoid these pitfalls by following three simple steps today. But first, let’s take a look at what passion really is.

Having a passion for science isn’t a switch that gets flipped on one minute and off the next. Rather it is the result of small and consistent actions taken every day. If these actions empower your child and nurture their curiosity, then you’ll see the interest spark into a flame of passion and creativity. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of textbooks and teachers out there that do the exact opposite – they slowly chip away at a student’s passion, not consciously aware that they are doing it, until one day that passion for science disappears altogether.

This article is the result of interviewing dozens of people who have had this experience specifically in science, and the issues they face today as adults. All of these folks have one thing in common: they once had a brilliant spark of interest for science, but ‘something happened’ along the way. These people are from all over the board: auto mechanics, grocery store managers, hair dressers, stay-athome moms, newspaper journalists, and one even was still flipping burgers. They feel an innate regret about being turned off to science, not knowing why or how it happened.

We are going to take a look at the effects of not feeding a child’s passion for science, some of which might be new for you to think about. I share this with you now you can learn from people who already know what the road ahead looks like. If you find you’re doing some of the things here, don’t feel bad – someone may have not told you about this before. We’re also going to look at the three simple things you can do to avoid this type of future for your child. Are you ready to get started?

Wasted Resources
Have you ever tried to teach a child something that they don’t even want to hear about? It’s harder than pulling teeth! In fact, it’s virtually impossible to do. The reason is that your job as an educator is to provide content in a way that has a greatest probability of reaching your student. The problem is that you still only go halfway. Like it or not, it’s really up to the student whether to learn the information. The real tangle comes in when your student needs to hit certain goals (state standards, written exams, college entrance, job application, etc.), and simply isn’t motivated to do so. Since most parents truly care about their child’s future success and available opportunities, they quickly step in with five-star curriculum, private tutors, and other resources that cost time and money. But no curriculum in the world is going to help a student that just isn’t into learning. And now you have a dusty bookshelf full of unopened science books and a kid who hasn’t a clue about what their major should be on the application. Now that’s a setback.

A Downward-Spiraling Habit
Kids learn by modeling others. You see it when a baby starts to walk, when your child learns to write, and your teen slaps on a new attitude. Unfortunately, there are many habits we pick up that are not chosen consciously. The habit kids pick up when their passion isn’t fueled is that they learn to give up on their dreams. And that’s not the worse part. Kids that never learned to stand up for what’s important to them, to grab hold of a dream and see it through (no matter kind of feedback they get from the world) leave themselves wide open for living in reaction instead of pro-action. If your child doesn’t have a clear plan for their life, I guarantee someone else will, and it may not be in alignment with their own personal goals. Kids in this category live life by reacting to events instead of causing the things they want most out of life. They rarely (if ever) feel the gold that comes from beating the odds, achieving something that no one else though possible. And if they give up on their passion for science, what will they give up next? Kids are learning so much more than just ‘science’ when you fuel their passion for it… they are learning how to follow their dreams, trust their intuition, and getting resourceful about finding ways to make it all happen. It’s a bigger life lesson than just learning the subject.

More Effort for Less Money
Folks that drag themselves out of bed, slug through a pot of coffee, and push themselves out the door are hardly in a place where they can spot new opportunities for themselves and feel the juice of life. On the other hand, people that jump out of bed with a “Yes! I get to go to work today!” start their brains in the morning in a much more resourceful state and feel as if new opportunities just flow to them. People that do their passion make more money for the effort they put out, take less sick days, and feel healthier because their daily actions are in alignment with who they are. When you ‘do your dream’, it takes one tenth the effort to get ten times the rewards. But I don’t have a dream! If you ever hear someone say: “I don’t know what I want to do” or “I don’t know what I like”, it’s a clear signal that tells you they are in a state of fear because they are afraid of getting hurt. They tried something in the past that didn’t work out, and they decided not to try again. It’s easier to kill this monster while it’s little by teaching kids how to be flexible and resilient: when they try something and it doesn’t work out, simply change your approach and try again. If that doesn’t work, change your approach and try again… and again… and again until you get the result you’re after. What can I do to avoid these traps?

Here are three simple things you can do to avoid these traps and fuel your child’ passion for science. As you go through each one, think of how you could put this into action for your child:

1. Pick a science topic that really sparks an interest in your child AND challenges their brain at the same time. For example, if your child is crazy about airplanes, don’t just toss paper airplanes around the room – get them inside a real airplane with their first flying lesson so they can really get a taste of what their future can be like if they keep studying this area in science. If your child loves astronomy but your budget is too tight for a telescope, visit your local star-gazing event hosted by an astronomy club, or find an interview with an astronaut they can watch online. The key is that you need to hook them and show them what’s possible.

2. Make it safe to make mistakes. Do you learn more when you make mistakes or get something right? Most people agree they learn more when they make mistakes. The trouble comes in when you truly care about your child and don’t wantnthem to make the same mistakes you did – you already know how painful it is, and you’d rather have them feel the success, right? Here’s the problem with this approach: do you like being told what to do? Probably not… and neither does your child. In fact, you make it easier for them to resist your guidance when you approach it this way. So take a step back, shrug your shoulders, and consider what the true cost is in the moment. Is it more important for them to ‘get it right’ or learn how to learn from mistakes? Kids that learn how to use their mistakes also make fewer of them in the future.

3. Never give away the ending. You’ll see this one in textbooks and classrooms all the time. What scientist in their right mind will do an experiment when they already know the ending? The solution to this one is simple – when your child performs an experiment, just omit the last line where it says ‘what to expect to occur’. Your child might pick up a few things that the textbook left out, anyway. Remember: small, consistent action taken daily gets you much farther than trying to do it all in one big gulp all at once. Once you set up the framework (the three steps mentioned above), the shift will follow naturally, and your child’s interest in science will have room to grow and flourish.

If you like this article, you’ll want to check out more resources for parents, including:

· How Do I Motivate My Child to Learn on their Own?
· Six Keys to Successful Education
· What Exactly IS Science?
· Common Misconceptions in Science
· Seven Biggest Mistakes Made in Teaching Science
· How to Keep a Scientific Journal
· Secrets from Successful Teachers
· Easy Steps to Award-Winning
Science Fair Projects
· What Does My Child Really Need to Learn in Science?

You’ll find these and more articles as a part of the Parent Resource section in the K-12 online eScience learning program by SuperCharged Science
To learn more, visit SuperCharged

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