4 Tips to implement Strengths-Based Learning in early years / early primary education and home learning
With the reality seriously challenging standard models of professional life there is a growing need for modern educators to become more aware about how important it is to facilitate students’ entrepreneurial skills. It is becoming obvious that for our children to succeed in the future we need to provide them now with the tools that will help them confidently manoeuvre in the reality where knowing their strengths and playing to them is one of the most important assets. Nowadays, in order to become more successful, more productive, and more competitive on the market, more and more enterprises focus on strengths. What does this mean for educators and parents?
Focusing on Talents
The main principle of this Strength-Based Approach is to look for “the right” and what’s already there, rather than focusing on faults or what’s lacking. This from the very beginning offers a very welcoming and fresh perspective which stimulates individuals’ self-confidence and encourages them to discover their talents and explore them further. The assumption is that each person has natural talents and skills which when used will make them more productive, effective and creative – because they are operating within their specialty. These individuals do what they like most and what they are passionate about, what excites them, and what brings them joy. This obviously makes their work easy, nice and self-fulfilling. The latter is especially important as it helps to associate work with something pleasant, which in turn makes the person even more productive.
Success Oriented Learning Approach
The whole thing is essentially success-oriented. In other words, if you are good at something, why waste time doing anything else in which you will most likely not succeed anyway? So it is about putting your strengths together and making the best use of them. This way one’s weaknesses become irrelevant.
The employers who are aware of the benefits of the Strength-Based Approach look to organise the workplace according to their staff preferences, delegate tasks to the right people, and team up their employees according to their talents – so that a specific task can be completed by those who really are and feel good about it and, respectively, possess relevant skills to complete it.
Their recruitment process is usually designed in a way that facilitates the selection of those candidates who already feel strong about their assets and are aware of their talents. These are the people who have been offered upbringing and education focused around the positives and the unique aspects of their individuality. The best example are the children who are brought up in the “can-do” spirit, supported by the Enabling Environments approach that allows them to explore their talents, skills and passions freely. Such upbringing ideally would start as early as in Foundation Years to build a solid base for the future, and it would be continued consistently throughout the entire school education.
Positive Pedagogy – a Counterpart Approach
An excellent counterpart to Strength-Based Learning in education is Positive Pedagogy which, when applied correctly by educators and parents, fosters the development of the above mentioned qualities in children. It has been widely practiced by many modern educational systems. Its presence in Early Childhood provisions and schools seems to be even more justified now as it not only supports children’s well-being and overall development, but it also prepares them for their future professional life – no matter wether they decide to become entrepreneurs or look for employment.
As educators we need to remember that although any time is good to begin supporting our students’ natural talents and developing their positive attitudes, the best results are always achieved by offering our support as early as possible. If you feel attracted to the Strength-Based Approach and understand its benefits, you should probably be aware that the expected outcomes valued in this approach will be just by-products of the effective application of the Positive Pedagogy and Enabling Environments approaches at any level of our students’ education. This means that our students will have already developed their awareness of their own talents and skills together with self-confidence should they have been offered effective support during their Foundation Years through their teenage years.
Here is a few tips how to support children on every day basis using the principles of Positive Pedagogy and the Strengths-based Model:
1.Praise for Efforts
No matter what the result are, praise your students/children for trying. This way you are sending a clear message No matter what the result are, praise your students/children for trying. This way you are sending a clear message that it is always good to try, that it is natural to make mistakes, and that the process (of trying) matters more than the final result. The students who keep trying will be more likely to discover their real strengths and later choose the domains they feel most confident about.
2. Allow free exploration and experiments
Provide plenty opportunities for unrestricted exploration as this will stimulate your students’/children’s creativity, encourage them to look for solutions, and let them discover their talents. Children become more self-confident to try new ideas and explore new domains when they are allowed to experiment. Such experiments should predominantly be process-oriented with a gentle guidance towards desirable results if necessary.
3. Delegate tasks based of strengths
Your students/children will more likely succeed when you offer them meaningful tasks related to their natural talents, skills and interests. They will be much more willing to devote time, energy and effort knowing that the task is exciting and seems relatively easy to complete. This should also help to eliminate negative competition, comparing and labelling within the group as everyone will feel successful.
4.Support safe risk-taking
Taking reasonable and safe risks is only possible when children feel secure about themselves and their skills. Once they do so, they are more likely to try out new challenges, which will often help them stretch their skills and master their talents. Eventually, they will become more confident about and aware of their talents.
Positive Pedagogy and the Strengths-based Model seem to be the most effective and maybe even the ultimate Positive Pedagogy and Strength-Based Learning seem to be the most effective and maybe even the ultimate approaches to supporting children in becoming self-aware and self-confident individuals who know what assets they possess and how to use them appropriately. They also seem to directly influence children’s life experience as they essentially focus on noticing the good, the right, the positive, the pleasant and joyful. Those equipped with such qualities will be more able to create fulfilling and happy lives for themselves as knowing their natural talents and skills can help them experience pleasure and satisfaction in both private and professional life.
WHAT TO DO NEXT
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This article was originally published on The Educator.com, written by Natural Born Leaders