Wouldn’t you feel better about yourself as a parent if you gave your child every tool they needed to emotionally and mentally do their best in school and life? Author and educator Dave Beal will give you 10 tips to help your child achieve that goal in his book, The Brain Power Classroom. And while you’re teaching your child these tips, try applying them yourself and see how much they add to your life.
What Beal Learned as a TeacherIn his early years in education, Beal began teaching at an inner-city school. Fights were a daily occurrence, and a lot of the students had home lives that weren’t conducive to learning and doing well in school—some of the challenges included poverty, foster care, abusive home situations, and family members of the students landing in jailed or being killed. Learning wasn’t a priority for these kids—surviving was.
Beal tried several methods to reach them and get them interested in learning, but nothing he tried seemed to resonate. Then he heard of a Brain Power workshop and thought it might help with his classroom, so he signed up, and paid the training out of his pocket.
Beal was thrilled he took the gamble. After the two-day workshop, he felt energized and refreshed by the physical exercises, the meditation, and mental flexibility training. When he took those lessons to his classroom, he was astounded by the changes he saw in individual students and the classroom as a whole.
In his book, Beal recounts one story about how he stopped a brewing fight by instructing the two boys who were at odds to do one of their Brain Power activities—push-ups. Instead of having a fist fight, they solved their differences by having a push-up duel.
The principal noticed the difference in Beal’s students without knowing he had implemented something different in his classroom. After sitting through a class and seeing the activities, she gave permission to start the program in more classrooms.
How To Implement Beal’s Program at Your Home
Beal’s program will work in any classroom or any home setting. But to bring about changes in your children, they aren’t the only ones who have to think differently—you do too. And that requires training your brain. Here are a few of the 25 tips Beal shares in The Brain Power Classroom.
- Govern with democracy instead of a dictatorship: There’s a reason the founding fathers of our country wanted a democracy—they wanted everyone to have a say in their future. Doing this with your child will give them a sense of ownership when it comes to learning. For instance, let them choose their books at the library, even if you don’t see the value in reading that particular book.
- Adopt a three-to-one policy: Sometimes, it’s easier to focus on negative things than positive, but that’s not motivating for a child. By giving more praise than criticism, we build their confidence and help them to see themselves in their best light. So offer three positive comments for every negative one. Keep that praise more about their accomplishments than things like their physical appearance—beauty fades and isn’t nearly as important as their hard work, attitude, and ability.
- Give up the desire to be right: Sometimes our urge to be right about everything gets in the way of the bigger picture. If a child doesn’t study for a test and you tell them they’ll fail it, and it happens just like you expected, try to hold off on the “I told you so” comment. That won’t do anybody any good. Instead ask them how they feel they could have had a different outcome, and be sincere, not snide, about it. Keep your eyes on moving forward, not looking back with your comments.
- Show don’t tell: Sometimes those nonverbal cues speak louder than verbal ones. Send messages with your movements—make eye contact, give a high five, place a hand on the shoulder. Those actions will all bring a daydreaming child back into the lesson.
- Do some quick exercises: We all need a break sometimes—it brings us greater focus and cuts back on stress. A minute or two of jumping jacks and push-ups can do wonders for kids.
- Put less emphasis on winning: When we become too focused on winning, we all lose. Instead, ask your child three things after a group activity—if they did their best, if they had fun, and if they supported their team. Let them know if all those three things happened, the outcome of the competition doesn’t matter.