[vc_row row_type=”1″][vc_column css=”.vc_custom_1488452484325{background-color: #203e4a !important;}”][vc_empty_space height=”35px”][vc_custom_heading text=”Practice makes perfect.” font_container=”tag:h1|text_align:center|color:%23ffffff” google_fonts=”font_family:Oswald%3A300%2Cregular%2C700|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_empty_space height=”35px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/12″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”10/12″][vc_empty_space height=”35px”][vc_column_text]

Congratulations! You’ve done the hard part. You’ve got the ball rolling and your little cherub has found something that they are interested in. Now it’s on to Stage 2: Practice. However, it’s not enough just to put the hours in, it’s how you practice that counts, so here’s what good practice looks like:

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1. the right type

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2. make it habitual

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3. parental help

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1. the right type of practice

[vc_column_text]All practice is good practice, right?

Unfortunately not, Duckworth’s research showed that the best performers in any given field had learned the art of  ‘deliberate practice’ as opposed to just plain old practice.

What’s the difference?

In turns out that people who are really good at stuff, practice in an entirely different way to the rest of us mortals. First of all they…[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”set appropriate goals” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:center|color:%23ce879f” google_fonts=”font_family:Oswald%3A300%2Cregular%2C700|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]Practice should not be aimless, instead, it needs to be done in relation to a specific short-term goal (which in turn needs to be part of a long-term goal). So before you even begin to practice you need to ask ‘What are you trying to improve and why?’

If your child is at the start of their journey then this might be learning or improving a skill or technique and in our experience, this works best when you explain upfront what the purpose of the practice is, so if it’s kicking with the left foot, or learning a new stitch, let your kid know that is what you will be doing. That way purposeful, deliberate practice becomes the normal way of practice.

For slightly older kids then you should sit down and discuss what they need to improve and then help them to systematically practice these skills. Practising at the edge of current capabilities is one of the features of deliberate practice and this needs to be front of mind when setting practice goals.[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”intensity” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:center|color:%23ce879f” google_fonts=”font_family:Oswald%3A300%2Cregular%2C700|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]Which is why practice under these conditions often doesn’t last very long, this type of effort is difficult to sustain, deliberate practice often means focusing on getting better at the things that you find difficult.

World class performers tend to practice with intensity, in short bursts and frequently. Whichever stage your child is at, it’s important to remember to take…[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”small incremental steps” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:center|color:%23ce879f” google_fonts=”font_family:Oswald%3A300%2Cregular%2C700|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]The early stages of learning any new skill are all about putting the building blocks in place for more difficult and complex tasks later. By moving too quickly you run the risk of damaging a critical feature of resilience; your child’s self-belief.

This happened to me when I moved school at age 13. Prior to the move, I used to be good at maths, I really loved it. When I got to my new school, my new classmates were half-way through a subject (algebra) that I’d not even heard of. Not having learned the basics of algebra, I struggled and started to fail, my confidence went and, I decided there and then that I was not amaths person, my self-perception had changed and once you’ve become a ‘not a X sort of person’, it’s a difficult path to reverse

The key instead is to move forward in small incremental steps, to explain until they understand, and to practice continually until each step is mastered.

So rather than allowing kids to work stuff out for themselves, you show them how to build their blocks of competence and knowledge. In this way they begin to feel like their abilities improve with effort and ultimately, they make quicker progress. A recent study has shown that with failing maths students you can make dramatic improvements by taking this approach.

However, as my personal example illustrates, this is pretty tricky to recognise as a kid, so they will need some help and guidance.[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”the feedback loop” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:center|color:%23ce879f” google_fonts=”font_family:Oswald%3A300%2Cregular%2C700|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]For maximum results, Duckworth says that there needs to be a feedback mechanism in place that is both immediate and informative.

Goal- Practice- Reflect- Refine Goal- Practice etc… CANVA this.

This is tricky to do as a kid and if you are an inexperienced parent, so a Coach or a Mentor is vital.

If you are taking the role of coach/ mentor then there is a great article here which highlights what a deliberate practice looks like so you can base your practice on that.

Failing that, is there anybody you know or online who can help guide and mentor your child?

Or you could get your kid to practice something where the results are already known. We got this idea from an article we read about Dr’s studying old X-rays and making a diagnosis. By measuring performance against an already known quantity,  you can compare performance and make the necessary adjustments.[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”other practice tips” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:center|color:%23ce879f” google_fonts=”font_family:Oswald%3A300%2Cregular%2C700|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]For more about deliberate practice, we suggest the short video below, it’s great to watch with the kids as it explains what practising something does to your brain and your body.

It also has some really great tips, for example, did you know that once the body has learned to perform an activity, you can actually practice using your mind?[/vc_column_text][vc_raw_html]JTNDaWZyYW1lJTIwd2lkdGglM0QlMjI1NjAlMjIlMjBoZWlnaHQlM0QlMjIzMTUlMjIlMjBzcmMlM0QlMjJodHRwcyUzQSUyRiUyRnd3dy55b3V0dWJlLmNvbSUyRmVtYmVkJTJGZjJPNm1Ra0ZpaXclMjIlMjBmcmFtZWJvcmRlciUzRCUyMjAlMjIlMjBhbGxvd2Z1bGxzY3JlZW4lM0UlM0MlMkZpZnJhbWUlM0U=[/vc_raw_html][vc_raw_html]JTNDaWZyYW1lJTIwd2lkdGglM0QlMjI1NjAlMjIlMjBoZWlnaHQlM0QlMjIzMTUlMjIlMjBzcmMlM0QlMjJodHRwcyUzQSUyRiUyRnd3dy55b3V0dWJlLmNvbSUyRmVtYmVkJTJGdW9VSGxaUDA5NFElMjIlMjBmcmFtZWJvcmRlciUzRCUyMjAlMjIlMjBhbGxvd2Z1bGxzY3JlZW4lM0UlM0MlMkZpZnJhbWUlM0U=[/vc_raw_html][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/12″][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row parallax=”” parallax_image=”” video_fullscreen=”true” video_url=”” video_type=”video/youtube”][vc_column][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/12″][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”10/12″]

2. make practice habitual

[vc_column_text]Practising is easier if it becomes a habit and again a bit of Parental help doesn’t go amiss here, in fact, we would advocate that parents schedule and enforce daily practice time. This won’t be popular, but then sometimes, parenting isn’t a popularity contest.

This year we’ve been trying to build some good habits over at Lifehacksforkids towers and here is a summary of what we’ve learned so far.

  1. Start small and build from there if it’s your goal to floss your teeth, then start with just one tooth, Once you’ve been doing that regularly and consistently, then do more.

  2. Stick to just one thing, despite what we might think, multitasking is a terrible way to practice.

  3. Stack your new habit onto an existing one, so if your kid needs to practise the guitar each day, lay out their guitar next to where they get changed when they get home from school.

  4. Plan to do the habit, when, where and how- research shows that you are 2-3x more likely to make habits stick if they are scheduled.

  5. Plan for what to do when temptation strikes or the going gets tough. If you’ve already considered what might go wrong and then planned what you will do when it happens, your brain has choices other than the default action and you are much more likely to stick with your new habit.

  6. Track progress. Nothing motivates more than seeing the progress you are making. For this we like (HabitBull and Keepy)

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3. parental help

[vc_column_text]Parental encouragement is crucial and aside from emotional support there are a number of ways that we can help our kids to keep on practising, we list a few below.[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”incentives” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:center|color:%23ce879f” google_fonts=”font_family:Oswald%3A300%2Cregular%2C700|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]There has been a lot of research into how to incentivise and motivate kids.

incentives http://scholar.harvard.edu/files/fryer/files/092011_incentives_fryer_allen_paper2.pdf

Regardless of the incentivise that you choose, you should remember to reward effort and not results

Don’t use bribes (cash or electronics) = i need to find that article (is it in to post?)[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”goal setting” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:center|color:%23ce879f” google_fonts=”font_family:Oswald%3A300%2Cregular%2C700|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]You could also help your child with their goal setting, which in itself is a very worthwhile life skill to possess, if you would like our take on how to set goals you can read this article. Helping your child to do this, demonstrates support and interest, which can only fuel your kid’s desire to practice. Remember to guide only, the goals that they set should be theirs, not yours.[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”remove temptation” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:center|color:%23ce879f” google_fonts=”font_family:Oswald%3A300%2Cregular%2C700|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]The final way to help your kids with their practising is by giving them space, time, and the indirect motivation to do it. So in our house, we’ve banned the things that tempt the kids (Mon – Thur), namely Youtube, TV and computer games. They don’t like it at first (be prepared for some kickback) but they get used to it and you create the time and space they need to actually practice.[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”no judgement” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:center|color:%23ce879f” google_fonts=”font_family:Oswald%3A300%2Cregular%2C700|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]This is perhaps the most critical feature of parental encouragement and there are a number of different aspects:

  • Focus on effort and NOT results

  • Do not compare performance to others

  • No criticism, positive reinforcement ONLY

  • See failure not as an end, but merely a pitstop on the often zigzag journey towards success

[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”stick with it” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:center|color:%23ce879f” google_fonts=”font_family:Oswald%3A300%2Cregular%2C700|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]In the book, Duckworth mentions something that she calls the ‘Hard Thing Rule’ which she does with her family and we like a lot. It has 4 features:

  1. everyone has to do something (mum and dad too)

  2. it must be something that requires daily deliberate practice

  3. you can quit, but only when season is over- (or some other natural break in proceedings) in other words, you must finish what you began

  4. you get to pick your hard thing

We love this idea and are currently doing it with our kids. We love the fact that we all share in the experience and we are showing what grit is to our kids by example. The idea behind this is it’s a way of teaching your kids as Duckworth says, “not to quit on a down day”, resilience is about experiencing the highs and lows whilst knowing that you are in it for the long run.

We all have those moments when we want to give up (usually after a difficult experience), but the rules of the game, discussed and agreed with upfront, won’t allow you to. Once you take this possibility away, it’s amazing how resilient kids can be- often grit is simply a matter of choice.

The timescale that she describes in the book is that you stick with something for a year and in the book when her kids reach high school (age 14) they need to stick with something for 2 years, but use your own judgement especially if your child is younger.

We would say that if your kid is aged between 7 and 10 then 6 months to a year is fine, any older and Duckworth’s timescales seem fine.

Younger than that? You could try 3- 6 months before ‘quitting’ is allowed.

[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”join in” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:center|color:%23ce879f” google_fonts=”font_family:Oswald%3A300%2Cregular%2C700|font_style:400%20regular%3A400%3Anormal”][vc_column_text]Another way we can help is either to join in. You can either do the same activity as (potentially even with) your kids or do something else and lead by example. In Duckworth’s family, they all have to do the hard thing game. They all have to choose an activity and then play be the same rules.

We have adopted this in our family and it’s working so far. It’s a great way to inspire and educate your kids, you can use the examples and techniques in this guide on you, and then help your kids on their journey by using what you’ve learned, it has the added advantage of taking away any excuse as well![/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/12″][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/3″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_btn title=”NEXT: FIND A PURPOSE” style=”outline-custom” outline_custom_color=”#203e4a” outline_custom_hover_background=”#ce879f” outline_custom_hover_text=”#ffffff” shape=”square” size=”lg” align=”center” i_icon_fontawesome=”fa fa-file-text” link=”url:http%3A%2F%2Flifehacksforkids.co.uk%2Fgrit-find-your-purpose%2F||” add_icon=”true”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][/vc_column][/vc_row]