Life Skills: Teamwork – Definition

Teaching character and life skills to students


Each month we define and discuss a word of character development and life skill with all of our students.

This month the word is Teamwork and will be defined this way.

Young students: Teamwork means: “Let’s work together to get it done!”

Older students: Teamwork means: Working together as a group to achieve a common goal.

Here are the worksheets for our students:

Teamwork worksheet TT

Teamwork Worksheet 5/6

Teamwork worksheet 7-12

Teen / Adult Teamwork worksheet

If you would like to see how we will deal with this subject with our students please follow our discussions here during the month of July or come in and TRY A CLASS.

Life Skills: When Perseverance Does Not Appear To Be In Your Child’s DNA

Teaching character and life skills to students

As I started this piece I was thinking of all those times my father and mother both told me I was not living up to my potential.  I thought about how many times even teachers told me that I was wasting good talent.  But I do not remember any of them coming up with a solution – other than just saying to me – You Have To Apply Yourself!  Do you know how empty those words are to a middle school or high school student?  What do you mean “apply yourself”?  Then I would go off about how it was bad teachers or any other excuse that made perfect sense to me.

Now that I am in the other position and past having my own kids that are frustrating me with their lack of effort – I have looked at this subject with much more objectivity and deeper than ever before.  Yes there are things that you can do.  No there is not a single conversation you can have and then everything is fixed. But here are a few steps that should help over the long haul, and yes it can be a long haul.

  1. Look for ways your child is already using perseverance.  It may be saving money for a certain ‘thing’ they want.   Discuss with them the steps they had to take to accomplish that goal and then offer the idea that the same techniques can be used to accomplish other goals.
  2. Do not start with getting straight A’s.  Start small and maybe something that is fun for them.  It may be a finishing a book, building a project or learning a new skill.
  3. Allow the child to choose the goal.  “I want to learn how to ….”  Now you have something that they are excited about and you can help them with planning how to reach the goal.
  4. Be aware and alert to things your child says that will give you the opportunity to teach.  They may say, “I would like to read the most books this summer, or win the science fair, or get a ipod”  Now you have a place to start with setting out steps, an action plan, and a timetable to reach that goal.
  5. Include your children in your own goal setting process.  It may be for accomplishing something around the house, or learning a new skill yourself.  Include them in on how you break down the tasks and make it happen over a period of time.
  6. Be real with them.  If there goal is to learn to play a musical instrument the amount of commitment is different than if there goal is to win the science fair.  Helping them to grasp reality vs. making them believe their goal is impossible is the balance you must make.  Helping them to think it through first will help to keep them from being discouraged when things do not happen as fast as they thought they might.
  7. Celebrate, Celebrate, Celebrate!  When you see them put forth the effort, sticking to their plan, and making progress – be sure to commend them and celebrate the effort!  This will go a long way in keeping them on track and encouraging them to complete other goals in the same manner.
Finally, making goal setting a part of their life is key to working on these steps.  Before the school year starts, begin talking about the goals they have for the year and how they plan on reaching them.  They may be academic goals or social goals, or they may be goals for showing leadership in areas of interest to them.  If your child has been the target of bullies in the past, they may have a goal of standing up to them and being proactive for changing the culture of their school.  You can help them with role-playing and getting them to think of ways they can accomplish their goals. 

I am here to help your child also to take leadership roles, to encourage them and provide help to them.  What if your child was a part of or started a project to help the hungry, stop bullying, provide school supplies or something else that they were interested in.  Balanced Life Skills wants to help them to accomplish their goals too.

Life Skills: Goal Setting + Perseverance = Confidence


Teaching character and life skills to students

Marie Curie said, “Life is not easy for any of us. We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.”
When you think about the goals you have already achieved you no doubt can look back and say that perseverance played a large part in accomplishing that goal.  Maybe it was riding your bike or learning to swim or conquering that math problem.  Each goal that you set out to achieve was conquered by doing the little things and not giving up.

It may not have been easy, but now that you know that if you work hard, put in the effort and get coached for knowledge and skill, you can accomplish anything that you set out to do.  This is important for every aspect of our life, including our academics, social or work we want to do on ourselves emotionally.  Step by step, little accomplishments when strung together with perseverance results in great achievement.  Great achievement will build confidence for the next goal that you want to reach.

In our next article on perseverance we will look at what to do when we do not think our child puts forth enough effort to reach goals and helping them learn about goal setting.  This will be a great way to start the new school year.

Life Skills: Persevere to Your Goals By Getting Knowledge & Skills

Teaching character and life skills to students

The K in SPARK stands for KNOWLEDGE.  Wanting something or wanting to do something and knowing how to get to that goal surely are two different things.  I may want to rock climb, but if I have no knowledge of the techniques, tools or where to go, it is not likely that I will become a successful rock climber.

If I seek out a skilled teacher though who guides me with the basics, shows me what equipment would be good for me to have and takes me to a place to practice, now I will start to have the knowledge and skills I need to reach my goal.  The same is true for any practice that we would like to take up, whether it is computer science, playing a game, or learning how to study.

Part of gaining knowledge and skills though is our willingness to be coached.  When I have a student that is ‘coach-able’ I am speaking of someone who will listen to the suggestions (new knowledge) and then try to put it into practice.  While it is good to ask questions of your coach to gain deeper knowledge, it is not good to question the validity of the suggestions made by the expert (why do I have to do this?).  We may not understand how this change or suggestion is going to help us reach our goal, but if we practice soon enough we will see how it helps us with details later.

When dealing with children or anyone new in a practice, getting the basics is key to the building blocks.  It has been suggested by some researchers that unless gross motor skills are developed in children before they are asked to perform fine motor skill tasks – they will never reach their greatest potential.  The same is true in math, reading, studying or leadership.  Gaining knowledge and skills in the correct order will help us maintain our perseverance to complete our goals.

Life Skills: Teaching Children Perseverance by Finding Their Passion

Teaching character and life skills to students
The P in SPARK stands for PASSION.  Developing passion in our children is something that we all would like to see happen.  Sometimes we see a child who seems passionate about a sport or another activity, but find out it is really about their friends being there and not really passion.  On the other hand we may have a child who does not seem to be interested in anything – and isn’t that frustrating, especially if we feel like all they want to do is sit and …..(fill in the blank) 

Our job as a parent is to expose our children to a variety of activities and interests.  While we may find one child interested in reading or math – another child may have a passion for one particular sport or activity like horseback riding or nature.  Some children will thrive with competition and teams while others would rather do something by themselves.  The martial arts if taught in a manner that does not promote competition may be a perfect fit for someone who does not want to compete.  If we are not sure where their head is at, we can keep trying by listening to them and paying attention to what appears to make them happy.  Then you can do what you can to expose them to and promote their interest.

One word of warning though.  Not all children will be interested in the same things and certainly not interested in what the parents may want them to be interested in.  Trying to find what our child is passionate for calls for a certain amount of non-ownership, allowing the child to express themselves and then doing what you can to support their interest.

One small side note:  One of my children, the youngest, showed an interest in books and films.  He would spend hours reading and watching films.  As he was exposed to that world more and more he eventually went to college for creative writing and now has a book published.  I can tell you that understanding the level of that passion and watching him go to a college for writing is hard for a parent – but one that has resulted in a very happy young adult.

Life Skills: Teaching Children Perseverance by Demonstrating Support

Teaching character and life skills to students

Teaching our child to persevere in any activity calls for S.P.A.R.K. We have talked to our students about the how this works, but here are some thoughts that we can look at from a parents point of view.  The S in SPARK stands for SUPPORT.

Our showing of support for our children gives them permission to be creative and affirmation of a parents interest in their activities.  Supporting them in word and action motivates the child to give extra and to do their best.  In a time when we find ourselves running from one ‘activity’ to another, we must remember to take our time to have an interest in the child’s progress and encourage the effort that they are putting into their goal.  On the other side, not over emphasizing the belt, trophy or winning will allow the child to have failures and still feel like a success for the effort.  As in everything effort will pay off with reaching goals when we persevere and have support from others.