It Would Be Better If…

Blog 2019 (2)Happy New Year!  Otherwise known as a time of optimistic self-improvement.

One of the skills required of parenthood and teaching is the ability to identify areas for potential improvement in children. We can believe a little more of this or a little less of that would benefit our children greatly. But we often make such determinations from our own point of view. If only they did ____ everything would be better. And our children give us daily reality checks that what we deem needs improvement may not be what they recognize as worthy of attention. What we see as encouragement for self-improvement and growth, they could describe as nagging. Maybe rightly so. 

When we returned from winter break this year, we presented a New Year’s resolution for the Lower School. We wanted our students to develop their own agency around self-improvement, so we suppressed our urges to make specific suggestions for them.This year our resolution is a simple statement:

 It would be better if…

 We talked about this resolution as a community and how It could be math homework, a writing project, a drawing or playing a song on the ukulele. It could be a friendship or a conflict two children are trying to resolve.The It can be identified mutually by an adult and a child; yet, the steps toward making something better originate from the child. Each child can determine what follows the It. Children know how to make progress; it’s just that they sometimes like to withhold this knowledge from the relentlessness of adults.Their resolutions  proved they know what is needed to make something better, whether the work is academic or the work of caring: 

  • My story would be better if I added more details.

  • My math homework would be better if I checked my work.

  • My friendship would be better if I listened more to you.

I offer this resolution to you so we, as adults, can collectively turn over some portions of responsibility for self-improvement to our children because one of the most important goals for them is autonomy. It is the overarching goal of growth.  We want them to have choice and self-direction about how to grow.

 Lower School’s words can be your words. Go right ahead and plagiarize!  It would be better if…

Author Westtown School