Ask The Expert: How Can I Help My Child Become A Strong Leader?
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If a kid is going to stand up in a drama class and just cry the whole time, that is not the best place for them because they’re not ready for that kind of leadership yet. But they’re developing their own kind of leadership and there are different forms of it. Parents should not expect “being a leader” to look a certain way, make assumptions, or push it on their child at all costs. Realize that every child does have the ability to do contribute somehow within their group and that’s important and needs to be praised.
How can encouraging my child to follow his passion make him a better all-around student?
That is enormous. In elementary school, middle school, high school, and even in college to a certain degree, we force children to try everything. And that’s as it should be; if the kids are already pigeonholed by the time they’re four, what’s the point if they’re not going to try everything? You never know what’s going to spark something for them.
But you don’t want to focus both on a new skill and on building their confidence at the same time. So if there’s something they have a passion for, let them take that and build their confidence in that. Maybe they’re a computer programmer instead of the drama kid and they’re going to be able to teach the kids around them and that is going to make them feel incredibly good and incredibly smart and comfortable and confident and if that’s the avenue they choose then so be it. To force someone to do both, to say, “hey feel comfortable with this” and “you don’t know what you’re doing,” that might be a little bit much.
For the summer, specifically, I’m always looking for it to be a good and fun and safe and enjoyable enriching learning experience because the whole point is that they’re learning to love learning, not hate it.
How does exposure to nature (such as through your Nature Sanctuary) benefit children?
Getting kids out of the classroom in general reminds them that learning isn’t just something that comes out of a book. It’s something that is happening all around us and it reminds kids, and even adults, to open their eyes and look around them and learn from the world around them.
There’s such a complex world out there, even if you just think of biodiversity – it’s amazing how one system interacts with another and they actually get to see that in action. What is a better way to learn something than actually seeing it in action? So whether it’s the nature sanctuary, or we have the DE International where kids actually go to Spain and learn Spanish in the university there, whatever the case is, they’re actually doing it, not just reading or talking about it, and that’s how they’re learning.
Shakeh Tashjian is the director of Dwight-Englewood School Summer Connections program in Englewood, New Jersey.