Friday, December 15, 2006

Teaching children to anticipate

This came in from the Quotation of the day this week:

"The sage anticipates things that are difficult while they are easy, and does things that would become great while they are small. All difficult things in the world are sure to arise from a previous state in which they were easy, and all great things from one in which they were small. Therefore the sage, while he never does what is great, is able on that account to accomplish the greatest things."
- Lao-tzu, Tao Te Ching (63).

This reminded me of a favorite saying:

"An extraordinary pilot uses his or her extraordinary judgment to avoid having to use his or her extraordinary skills."

Preparing for the future is a great skill or habit to teach. Taking care of a small problem will often prevent it from becoming a big problem. And when a problem is big it often takes more time and effort to resolve.

To help our children develop the mind set of anticipating and preparing for the future we need to walk them through the basic steps of planning at an appropriate level. As adults we can often see a problem coming long before our children. We have a several options:

1) We can take care of the problem ourselves.
2) We can tell the children exactly what to do to avoid the problem.
3) We can explain what the problem is and ask them how to they might solve it.

Recently my wife went back East to help her sister for a week. My parents live close by and so I arranged for my daughters and me to stay with my parents. My parents would watch the girls will I went in to work. The girls needed clothes while we stayed at my parents.

I could have packed their clothes. I could have given them a list of clothes to pack. What I did was to talk about what things we would need and had them pack. This was a bit of a stretch for our six year old. After she declared she was done I asked about a few specific things and then she went back and added them to her suitcase.

The more we work with our children to plan for the future, the more they will develop the habit of anticipating. This way they'll be able to avoid great problems and accomplish great things.

Technorati tags: homeschooling, homeschool, home school, home education, parenting, children, education


CarolynM said...

Excellent advice! Back when Super Nintendo and the Mario Brothers ruled the video game world (boy, do I suddenly feel old!), I gave in to purchasing our kids a game system. the repetition of the Mario games gave them lessons in anticipation and memory -- learning what tools to pick up along the path, learning timing for when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em, learning how tenacious to be in fighting off certain enemies. Anticipation is a great skill... and so much fun to learn!

Scribbit said...

I agree and say thanks for the example you've given, that's exactly what children need to learn to be functioning, contributing members to society. Unfortunately today the tendency is to do everything for them, to treat them as if they couldn't handle various situations, to extend adolescence into the adult years and it's debilitating to their growth and happiness.

An excellent post.

Holly Schwendiman said...

I LOVE the quote about the extraordinary. That is such a keeper! My mom always said it's easier to do it yourself, but that doesn't make it better. The hardest part of being a parent for me is to teach things to my kids by letting them do and learn because my mom was right - it would always be easier to just do it myself!

Holly's Corner
Here via the carnival of family life.

Super Saver said...


Great post. I have been getting some great coaching tips why and how to explain things to our daughter. I will also incorporate this one into my set of parenting skills.