We want learning to be fun. Like this lovely moment in Wellbeing with Ibu Zabby. At the same time, with all the talk about "grit" and "resilience" out there in the world, sometimes the fear-loving part of our brain can grab hold of us when faced with "I DON'T GET THIS! I CAN'T DO THIS!"
Maybe this sounds familiar...
First stage: disbelief--Really? You don't know how to do this?
Second stage: blame school--How could they have not taught him this already?
Third stage: blame child--How could this kid give in so easily? Has she no (insert word of the day...grit, resilience, persistence, stick-with-it-ness...)
Fourth stage: blame self--This is my fault. I've made life way too easy for this kid.
Of course, I am being a little cheeky here. I have no idea how you respond at home when your child gets stuck. Most certainly, many of you out there are likely to respond in ways that are encouraging and that facilitate real learning for your children, at least on the good days. While it is important to think critically about parenting and educational fads, of which "grit" may be one (see this article), there may be some helpful things to try, if you are in a rut with helping your child get unstuck.
-Ask your child to talk you through where they are stuck and what they did leading up to that point in the work. Talking out loud may reveal a new perspective or discovery that helps.
-Ask them what they know about the task/question and what seems to be the tricky part for them.
-Ask them what they have learned before that may help with this problem.
-Ask them what they need to know/do/ask to find out a possible solution and then support them if they need help with that lead up knowledge or skill.
-Encourage a short movement break, drink of water, pause in the thinking-often getting some space from the emotion of feeling stuck can allow new ideas to emerge.
-If these don't work, model how you would solve this problem, what methods or strategies you would try, talking out loud through the steps and asking your child to say back what she sees you doing. Be sure to remind her that your way is not the only way. "Does this way work for your way of thinking? Would you do something similar or different?" There are many ways to solve problems.
-Ask your child to record a note explaining to his teacher where he got stuck, what he thinks he needs to get unstuck, and what's challenging about this bit, then send it along to the teacher, being ready to come back the next day to that task.
Struggle is good. Shut down is not. That applies to both you and your children. We want every child to gradually build stamina for the discomfort of learning new things and this takes years and does not progress in a linear step-by-step way. You will have bad days.
With love and understanding,
Several ideas adapted from this post.