How to help kids practice for the first time
The first time kids try a new activity, one detail can make all the difference!
As much as I like to find general tricks to help kids learn any skill and subject I also recognize that each activity comes with its own set of challenges.
Sometimes when I introduce my kids to a new activity they refuse to practice altogether.
At first I thought they simply didn’t like the activity but I realized there was always one specific detail about the way the practice was set up that was holding them back.
I just needed to find and change that detail to help them begin practicing.
This concept also applies when children are blocked trying to acquire a new skill related to an activity they are already familiar with. Sometimes changing one detail can make all the difference.
Find below a few practical examples based on my experience but I would love to hear yours, too! Just leave a comment or reply to me directly.
Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed it!
Reading: I needed to use books specifically designed for early readers like these (I can read by Harper, Ready To Read by Simon Spotlight, Premières lectures Larousse (French)). These books are written using a gigantic black font on white background, with double interline, short simple words repeated many times over and over. Training eye movement and memory is a critical aspect of reading often neglected.
Arithmetic: I needed to use objects they love for counting and making operations. Colourful hair clips for my daughter and screwdriver bits for my son. Similarly a friend of mine told me his son learnt sums because he wanted to know the power of boats with two engines.
Music: I needed to find the right instrument (voice for my daughter), the right catchy song (Disney movie songs or country songs worked for my daughter) and play it at much slower speed when practicing. Singing is also a good way to learn English for non native speakers.
A new language: I needed to start communicating with people using another language, for some reason just talking to my kids wasn’t enough.
Swimming: I needed to bring my kids in a small swimming pool with warm water (above 30 degrees celsius). Oddly enough with time they got used to colder water but are still uncomfortable when we go to an Olympic sized pool.
Climbing: I needed to bring my kids practicing in a climbing gym specifically designed for children. One with slides, funny looking holds and walls shaped like a castle.
Skateboard: I needed to use a skateboard for kids with loose tracks and always hold their hand to make them feel safe so they could carve and push to the edge of their balancing skills. Also, going for long rides across town helped them learn how to quickly react to sudden changes in rolling speed caused by ground conditions to avoid falling.
Football: I needed to bring my kids to practice on a real football field. After they lived, that experience practicing anywhere became easier.
Balancing bike: I needed to let them practice for 1 minute a few times a week so they could learn how to move the handlebar to keep the bike straight. Super grippy ground, tyres, and shoes also helped greatly in this phase.
Karate: I needed to mark the side of the couch as the villain from animated movies. This way training kicks and punches became an adventure game.
Two wheel scooter: I needed to hold them while riding to help them understand they had to always lean on the side of their pushing leg. Riding a two wheel scooter is more difficult than riding a bicycle because if the rider leans on the side of his standing leg he is going to fall and won’t be able to put his leg to control or stop the fall.
Inline skating: I needed to wear my skates and go for long rides together holding their hand to pull them. Exactly like for skateboarding, rides across town helped them learn how to quickly react to sudden changes in rolling speed caused by ground conditions to avoid falling.
Gymnastics: I needed to buy a nice gymnastic suit that she could only wear for practicing gymnastics. Also seeing a group of gymnasts warming up for a competition, finalizing their makeup and adjusting hairs and clothes truly made the difference.
Parkour: I needed to have them practice jumping and falling on soft mattresses than moving to grass, thick carpet, wood and finally pavement.
Yoga: Having an illustrated yoga audio book for kids made my daughter start practicing even though she lost interest growing up.
Judo: I needed to sign them up to judo classes with their best friends.
Dancing: I needed to find the right dance teacher.