As educators, we are constantly in search of ways to improve our schools and better impact the lives of our students. We know that the foundations we establish with our children, whether at 3, 10, or 17, are going to stick with them for the better part of their lives, and shape their success for decades.
Usually, however, we think about our role in terms of the content and curricula we teach, not in the form of habits, so I thought I’d take a few moments today to write about the importance of instilling habits for success in our children as early as possible.
The Willpower Habit
In the book The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg, the author reveals a number of studies that show that focusing on developing good habits at an early age can positively impact a child’s life for decades to come.
Drawing upon hundreds of scientific studies and observation, Duhigg concludes that as early as age 3-4, children can begin to show tendencies towards developing willpower, which in turn will impact how they study, how persistent they are to completing problems, and how likely they are to succeed.
A Practical Example
One great example of instilling good habits in early childhood development comes out of Chicago’s E.L.F. schools. ELF, short for Early Learning Foundations, is the most prestigious multi-cultural preschool in Chicago, and provides a firm grounding in all areas of preschool education.
The teachers’ commitment to excellence is due not just to their focus on building a strong academic foundation, but on their ability to look at the larger picture of a child’s growth, and help them to develop in as many ways as possible.
In my opinion, we need schools across the country to commit to this style of learning. Many times, small changes (known as keystone habits in the scientific community) will ripple from one outcome to the next, creating positive change across all areas of a child’s education.
Established at the preschool level, this could lead to better academic performance in middle and high school, and even a better chance of entering into a successful profession, with more career options available.