Uh, oh. You did what? Awesome! We've all heard the words “Learn from your mistakes”, an adage meant to motivate us — after we've erred — to use the mistake as a learning curve. Truth be told, mistakes are rarely celebrated at the time of the crime so to speak, and it can take years down the line to recognize that they've somehow made us better learners or better people. At Oxford Learning, we take celebrating mistakes quite literally, and that's because we are committed to practicing what we (don't actually) preach. At any given time, an Oxford Learning session can hold more whoops and cheers than an NHL game – and we can assure you, our students don't get the answers correct that often. For that, we're grateful. After all, learning is all about discovery, not the number of checkmarks on a page.
As a parent, it is your job to use your child's mistakes to plant the seed for positivity and growth. We know that's often easier said than done. We all know the adage, but practicing the patience to put it to use can be the biggest challenge of parenthood. Your child's ability to exceed in school can benefit greatly from using these 3 tips to call forth the powerful magic of mistake-making.
“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honourable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” – George Bernard Shaw
1. Time to celebrate! Show your child that while they may have made a mistake on a school assignment, failed a test, or done poorly on an essay, the fact that he or she did it at all is what matters. Show them you are proud of their effort, and celebrate the effort and thought that went into the work. Say, “It is so great that you filled in these short answers even though you were confused!” One day, getting your child to go to school at all could be your biggest issue, and that would only happen if he or she feared making mistakes too much to try.
“Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it.” -Lucy Maud Montgomery
2. Deal with it immediately. Initially, the fear of consequences will prevent your child from being able to see the bright side of a mistake. To allow your son or daughter to move forward, your best bet is to deal with it right away. That includes making a plan to improve, discussing what went wrong, and laying out consequences (if any) before bed the same night. That way, you can assure your child that tomorrow is a new day and the mistake will be in the past. When he or she wakes up, the mistake will be dealt with and the learning can begin sooner rather than later.
“Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.”-Oscar Wilde
3. Make it a learning experience. The most important factor in this is listening and asking questions of your child. You, too, will be learning about his or her learning style or possible difficulties by asking not “why did you do this?”, but “how can I help you do better next time?” Then, explore options for making sure not to repeat the same mistake twice and set a plan in motion. Even say, “I am so glad we can both learn from this.” Assuring your child that with your support they don't have to repeat the mistake, he or she will feel confident in jumping back on the bike right away. Looking way into the future (“One day you will look back on this…”) is no better than hearing “it will grow back in a few months” after an awful haircut.
Being equipped to see the beauty in mistakes will empower your decisions as a parent when your child makes a mistake in school. Of course, the severity of a mistake will determine your action, but be positive, know that life is nothing if not a cycle of mistakes and lessons, and remember…it really does grow back!
Written by Suzanne Hartman, Teacher at Oxford Learning which offers programs for children from 3 years old through university. Our goal is to give students the skills they need to be successful in school and in life. Oxford Learning has locations in Halifax, Hammonds Plains and Bedford. For more information about our programs and services, including our camps, visit us at www.oxfordlearning.com