On Olympian Development and Learning Skills

Did your children find time to watch a few Olympians recently?  If so, what did your children enjoy about them?  Among families we know, children found the athletes inspiring, and well they should!

Many of us marvel at the poise and control of men and women as they swim, dive, run, vault, volley, and perform other nearly miraculous feats of courage and discipline.  One of my children is now inspired to take fencing lessons, and another has developed fresh vigor for badminton.

Perhaps inspired by all that athletic prowess, during the Olympics, busy parents found time for a little more exercise.  Physical activity is very good for the brain at all ages.  Becoming really good at anything, takes considerable discipline, and sustaining a truly demanding level of engagement. The strict training expected of great athletes, is accepted as a given.  “Practice makes perfect,” and succeeding at increasingly challenging performances is part of any athletic regimen.

As children may witness the intense control and ability shown by athletes, succeeding in academic ‘performance’ is also on parents minds.  We aspire to develop principles to live by, that are conducive to children’s stability and increasing competence in learning and comprehension.

Let’s reflect for a moment on educational calisthenics, and differing views of routine and repetition, contrasted with spontaneity and child-initiated learning.  Traditional training that includes drills remains one of the best ways to memorize arithmetic in early childhood, though there are increasingly variable drill structures.  And for children who are learning English or are multilingual, drills in conjugating verbs also lead to lasting memorization and comprehension of deeper grammatical principles in language.  To overlook the meaningful impact of drills such as these is to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Spontaneity, and child or student-initiated learning, is that freedom to be creative that is also important to our children’s intellectual, social, and psychic development.  Interesting new studies find, for instance, that students forced to read a topic that disinterests them, struggle learning to read, suffer, and ultimately become less likely to become avid readers.  In fact, the struggle affects their adult lives, as well.  On the other hand, students given the opportunity to select their reading, have positive feelings about it, advance and learn to read more quickly, showing increased gratification and comprehension in reading, as well as a lifelong propensity for reading.

The best learning includes spontaneity and drills, helping a child develop a solid basic foundation for continued learning. Should a child take a liking to certain topics, increasingly, drills become pleasant challenges to be mastered.  Olympians learn by combining natural interests and drills.

Related Online Topics:

Science360:  Science Of The Summer Olympics: Engineering In Sports

New York Times : Math Drills, via the Smartphone

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