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Pushing Children Beyond Their Comfort Zone - Striking the Right Balance

My mother, who is also my partner at work (this may seem odd, but we do complement each other in our skillsets, this makes us a good team), takes some of the batches in our online homeschooling in India program. These are live and interactive sessions, where parent and child attend together and are part of small groups of children for guided learning sessions. She also handles communication with the parent body, something we have learned is a very crucial aspect - at times, it is our responsibility to give the right guidance to parents as much as addressing queries which they may have.

So two instances happened in the last couple of months, where a concerned parent called us up to tell us that their child was only interested in some of the activities, which seemed more fun in nature, while they tended to either show disinterest, or run away from some of the other activities. 

Their query to us had two dimensions - 

1. Should the nature of activities be changed?

2. Were we pushing the children into doing activities they were not ready for?

The above quote beautifully encapsulates what we want to share on this topic. If we look at things rationally, then in life, there is a certain pattern we all must follow, irrespective of age.

Being Exposed to a New Task/Concept

None of us are born experts in any area. We must learn to do everything from scratch. An infant learns to lift their head, a toddler learns to crawl then walk, a preschooler learns ABCs or art, a grade 1 child learns to read, a middle schooler learns algebra, a college grad learns to specialize in a field. You get the gist. At every developmental stage, we first get exposed to a new concept, which initially may seem tough to grasp.

Falling Into a Comfort Zone

Once we fall into the rhythm of undertaking this new task or concept, we gradually learn to accept it as routine, and tend to fall into a comfort zone. It can become fun or at times, convenient, as we master it. 

Being Exposed to a New Task/Concept

At this stage, the cycle must repeat, as we challenge ourselves with a new task.

This is the premise for growth. If we were to remain comfortable with the limited tasks we master, then there would be stagnation in learning. Unless we face new challenges, growth does not happen.

The same holds true for early learning as well. Toddlers find it easy to fall into a comfort zone - initially they may resist getting their hands dirty with colours, once they begin to enjoy it, they can spend hours doing these sensory activities. Similarly, for any new activity, when they have to initially apply themselves, physically or mentally, they may resist these activities. With persistence, they begin to enjoy the challenge posed by these activities till they master them.

How Do You Find the Right Balance in Pushing A Child Beyond the Comfort Zone?

This is a crucial question to answer. How does one know whether they are challenging their children just right? How to ascertain that children are not pressurized into doing activities which are beyond their years? 

This same question comes into picture when one is choosing a learning pedagogy for their child. The school you choose must be aligned to your philosophy - the choice must not be determined by rankings alone. This determines in large part what could be considered as pushing your child beyond their comfort zone, as different pedagogies focus on different approaches to incorporate learning.

As a for instance, a conventional school may focus more on concrete concepts. If you are in sync with that, it works, but, there may be another parent who may feel there is plenty of time to learn reading or writing later on. Another school may focus recall based activities, which children may find challenging initially.

As a general approach, you may consider the following -

1. Understand the pedagogy before finalising a school.

2. Trust that the school must have done sufficient research on what is age appropriate basis their pedagogy.

3. Most important - be patient. Some children welcome and thrive when a new challenge is thrown at them. However, by and large, most children will resist the new stimulus. Give them and their educators the time to build on the fundamentals before they learn to enjoy a new activity.

At Morning Glorie, we always encourage our parents to communicate with us, be it our preschool and daycare, or our online homeschooling in India program. With constant communication, it is easier to assess both sides of the picture. 

In our homeschooling module in particular, parents have the unenviable task of getting their children to execute learning, so their feedback on what their children are doing and what they are struggling with is invaluable. However, at the same time, it is important to remember that no activity can generally be mastered in the first go. With repetition, even challenging activities become fun, so that time must be given to each child. This serves two purposes -

A. Growth in learning

B. Understanding that some tasks need to be done even if they do not like it. This is an important life skill to acquire.

Learning and growth is a pattern as well as a cycle - this can be accomplished only by exposure to new stimuli time and again, age no bar. 

Up Next - Youngest or Oldest in Class- The Age Old Dilemma


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