Teaching Perseverance

“It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.”
-Theodore Roosevelt

Last week, in a very rare moment of downtime, I perused my social media sites, and it wasn’t to check up on my kids this time. I was excited about a friend’s recent news, and I wanted to check to see how things were going. A friend from high school is in a band, and they had a major label release of their first album. The album has garnered critical acclaim. What is interesting about this news is that I am a woman of “a certain age” (that age when it becomes impolite to ask how old I am), and this friend has been working on getting an album deal since we were in high school. That is a very long time to be working for something with very little success.

To be honest, if I were in my friend’s shoes, I would have given up long ago. Many people told him to get a “real” job, and he did. He was quite successful in that arena too, but on the side, he continually worked towards his dream of being a recording artist and making his own music. I was struck with awe as I considered how long it has taken for him to achieve his goal. I could only imagine the number of rejections he had faced before getting to this point. I felt that sense of pride that rises up when we recognize the efforts, perseverance, and achievements in others, especially those we have supported along their journey.

The reality is that school, and in particular middle school, is a lot like that. Students come out of lower school with a typical high degree of success. After all, they have had many years to learn how to operate within that environment. The transition to middle school can feel a bit tricky. They experience a few bumps along the way. The rules change. The friends change. Subject areas that were once easy are a bit more difficult as students are encouraged to become more analytical. Their brains are stretching. This is uncomfortable, yet exciting.

As we approach middle school (or any life stage), it is important that we help our children learn a sense of perseverance and drive. As parents or teachers, it can be difficult to watch, and we jump into rescue quickly. However, we are denying our children the opportunity to develop a valuable life skill. This is the time to teach that success comes from hard work and perseverance and that anything less than your intended success is a worthy learning experience. After all, you never know how long it will take to achieve your dreams if you don’t try.

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