“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader”.
-President John Quincy Adams
Leadership is such an important skill-set for students to learn. It is one of those lessons that students carry with them for a lifetime. In order to be successful in their education and later on, in the workforce, students need to learn what it takes to be a leader.
Children look up to leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King, a parent, teacher, or mentor. They strive to be like them, to make a difference. That is why it is so important to teach students how to become leaders and the characteristics leaders have.
So, what can we do as parents and teachers to encourage this behavior and help our children become the best leaders they can be?
Here are four ways you can help learners become innovative thinkers and develop leadership skills throughout elementary and middle school years:
Developing Leadership Skills through Encouragement
Kids thrive off of encouragement. There is no better feeling than to hear “you can do it” or “you are doing a great job at ____________”. Children look to adults for this type of encouragement and specific praise.
Have they told you about a dream that they have had? Let them know that they can achieve that dream, as long as they work hard and set goals that can help them make it a reality.
Students may have heard the “I Have a Dream” Speech by MLK or have been told to dream big. Constant encouragement and support will help them to pursue it and see that dreams do come true!
Exploring interests and participating in extracurricular activities is one-way students can develop their ambitions and innovative thinking skills. At Beth Emet School, there is an opportunity to be part of a vast curriculum and “Beyond the Bell” after-school activities where they can develop their passions.
Helping Students Set Goals For Success
Goal setting is another essential step to becoming a leader. Dreamers do not just become leaders overnight, they have goals they wish to achieve and they work hard every single day to make those dreams come true.
Setting goals creates a direction, a vision, for leaders to strive for, to be successful. Having goals teaches your child skills that will help create a more confident and independent adult in the future. It teaches them how to work hard, develop independence, perseverance, and determination.
Here are three steps you can take to help children set meaningful goals that will guide them to becoming successful leaders.
Make milestones. Yes, we want our kids to strive to do their very best; however, you can take baby steps when trying to make big accomplishments. Set your goals using milestones. For example, if students want to have an A in math by the end of the year, set goals as if they will come true, such as, “I will get an A on my next test”, “I will not miss one homework assignment this month”. Have these milestones lead up to their big goal.
Pick goals children are passionate about. It is so much easier for children to be successful when they choose to pursue their passion. Have a conversation with them about what they love and then encourage them to set goals around that.
Teach them about a growth mindset. Be sure they know that obstacles will come up, but those obstacles can make them stronger and set them up for success down the line.
Want some examples of age-appropriate goals? We discussed this more in our New Year Resolutions article! Take a look and use some of these examples!
Discuss the Characteristics of a Good Leader
One easy way you can talk about leadership with your children is to discuss the key characteristics that leaders possess.
Here are five key qualities to get the conversation started:
Respect for themselves and others
Courage to go their own way
Care for others
Willingness to take risks
Explore Leaders in History and Develop Ideas About Role Models
Children love looking at other leaders in history that they view as role models. These leaders can be from previous times or the present.
The key is to find leaders that spark your child’s interest. Talk about what characteristics that leader possesses. What does your child think of when they think of that person? In what ways did that person make a difference? Why does your child look up to that person?
Have an open discussion with your children. You will be surprised how much they admire their leaders!
It is never too early to talk about leadership. Being a leader will help students be successful in the present and the future. Beth Emet School values leadership and creates a curriculum that fosters these skills.