How should parents encourage learning by doing in kids?

To raise eager—and lifelong—learners, provide regular “doing” opportunities.

Let small children take as long as they need to finish things; don’t get impatient and jump in to button the coat or make the bed. If the final result looks sloppy, leave it—it’ll improve with practice.

Don’t tell kids “you’re too little” when they ask to help. If you wait until they’re big enough to handle it easily, they’ll have lost all interest (because it’s no longer a challenge) by the time you want their help.

Remember that spilled milk is not a broken glass, and a bruise is not a broken arm. Of course you can’t let kids risk major injury or destruction, but protecting them from any and all minor damage does more harm than good.

Ask about their “when I grow up” dreams, and encourage them to invent steps in that direction.

Have confidence in them. Say, “You can become anything you want to be,” and believe it!


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