Practice for Life

Manila Bulletin, November 12, 2010 | Go to article overview

Practice for Life


A parent asked me recently, "How do you make sure that a child will excel in Math even if we (parents) are not really good at it?" My simple Life Tip reply was, "Practice. Practice for life."When you practice for life, the purpose is more meaningful compared to answering drills just to pass a test. They will be more motivated if they know that what they are practicing can contribute to a better future, not just a good grade.And parents, don't be daunted by your limitations. Note that the most important foundation in learning happens in the first six to seven years of life. As an adult, surely you can wing that--- teaching them the basics. The next phase is the elementary, between seven to 13 years old. You have technology and tutors to help you. If you want your child to excel in anything, you need to practice daily. As the popular adage goes, success is attained more from perspiration (effort) rather than talent. One has to hone innate potential and learn skills you do not have.Start while they are young. One is never too young to learn. Stay ahead by personally teaching your child. Don't wait for a teacher to introduce new concepts. The best practice happens when it is enjoyable, exciting, and entertaining. Notice that all these E's are repetitious, just like the act of practicing. Repetition leads to perfection.Professional performers practice to death but I much rather prefer calling it "practice for life". When you position learning in a positive tone (practice for life instead of practice to death), the learner is more relaxed. A relaxed spirit promotes better memory and ease in acquiring knowledge and skills. Learning is like swallowing. It is hard to swallow when you are tense.I've been practicing these precepts for about 15 years and I can assure you that it works. When children practice in a spontaneous and cooperative attitude, they function better. Surprisingly, they are also very enthusiastic and more confident. Their contagious eagerness seems to erase self-consciousness. They like to execute skills or apply knowledge as naturally as possible just like breathing.Exposure should be constant and consistent. Just like excellent athletes and even actors, they practice their craft daily, many times a day. So, if you want a child to be savvy in Math, do activities that require logical thinking and systematic methods. So what do we do first? Play card, dice, and board games. I promise you that even the most math-shy child will be challenged to master math combos because it is natural to play to win. If you want a child to care for counting, count yummy (healthy) treats that they can eat if they can count it. To review practical economics and number digits, go shopping for things that your child likes to buy.

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