As homeschool teachers, we spend tons of time teaching our kids subjects like English, math, science, etc. And while these subjects are important, many studies show that there isn’t as big a correlation as we have all been lead to believe between “straight A’s” in these subjects and having a successful and happy life.
For some of you, this doesn’t come as a surprise and you may even homeschool because of this. There are a bunch of skills, though, that you can add to your curriculum that are common among successful, happy adults. Adding these into the way you are “doing school” could be just the key to making all of this hard work even more worthwhile. Here are the first five of 15 habits and developed skills that successful people have in common.
1. Read every day.
This is obvious, but worth mentioning. Successful adults read, listen to audio books, or have some other daily input that continues their lifelong learning. 88% of successful adults read 30 minutes or more every day. This is a huge habit that is easy to create when your kids are young.
The key for you as a homeschooling teacher is to make that daily reading time enjoyable for your kids. Personally, one of our main homeschooling goals is to raise kids who love to read. This means really encouraging them to choose things they love and are interested in as daily readers on top of the books you choose for other areas in your homeschool.
Here is a great teaching tip when it comes to reading. For books you use in everyday teaching, or for any textbooks you are using, pick books that are at your child’s reading level. This means that they occasionally ask about a new word, but comprehension is not stalled by overly struggling to sound things out. To stretch your child’s reading skills, choose books that are a grade level ahead of their comfort level. Have them read these books sparingly. For their daily reading, have them choose books just under or even a grade or two under their comfortable reading level. The goal here, besides enjoyment, is to allow them to get lost in the books in order to build skills in the process and experience the joy of reading. If they are struggling during their 30-minute daily reading, they aren’t practicing what they know, nor are they picking up the information or story line in the books.
2. Spend less time on the TV, Internet, cell phones, or playing video games.
Our country is seeing a decrease in attention span due to the technology crisis. Our work force is having issues with productivity and focus due to cell phone and social media use, as well as all of the other technological distractions. I could get into tons of studies and trends here, but the most telling thing I can tell you are the stats on successful vs. struggling adults and their time on devices. Two thirds of successful adults watch less than an hour of TV and spend less than an hour on the Internet unless it is work related. The people who are in charge of their lives and making a difference just don’t spend a lot of time getting lost in technology.
You have the ability to remove those influences from your kids’ lives right now. This will be setting them up to be light years more prepared for a productive and happy life than the rest of our country. Caution: be careful not to withhold it too much or they will be drawn to it. It is best not to introduce things like smart phones when getting your kids their first phones. And don’t model heavy TV watching! I have found that the attitude of “why would you want to do that when you could do all of this” works so much better than a flat “no, because I said so.”
One statistic I found particularly interesting: 77% of those who are struggling financially in this country have the habit of spending more than 1 hour watching TV per day and 74% spend more than an hour surfing the internet.
3. Talk less and listen more.
This is one of Covey’s seven habits, from Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” This habit is a total game changer. The ratio of 5 to 1 is a great way to explain how long someone should listen in relation to the time they spend talking. Successful people are excellent listeners and communicators. They know that the best way for them to learn as well as influence others is to truly listen. Great communicators start by being great listeners first. Watch leaders you admire with the kids and notice how intently they listen to those around them.
This is a great skill to teach your kids and you can start by modeling it yourself. Up your listening time a little everyday. You will notice after a couple weeks, as you listen to them more, that they will begin to listen to you more. The best life long benefit from this skill is that the more you listen to people, the more you can ultimately help them.
4. Don’t give up.
Successful people don’t give up. They stick to things for the long haul and use each set back as a way learn and improve. Things don’t need to be evaluated by winning or losing, success or failure. Successful people see things as winning or learning.
There are three common traits successful people have- focus, persistence, and patience. They do not quit going after their big goals. Those who struggle in life as well as financially have a habit of giving up, and usually it is right before things get better.
5. Set goals, don’t make wishes.
Kids are full of dreams and wishes. As parents, we can show them how to set goals, take those most important wishes and dreams, and teach them how to make them come true.
70% of successful adults have at least one major goal each year they are actively pursuing. And get this: only 3% of those who struggle to make ends meet do this. To me, that says it all. Goal setting is key. It is important to mention here that these are kids. They spend their childhood dreaming of becoming a ballerina, going to the moon, or becoming president. Start small when it comes to goal setting. You are just teaching the process and how to be successful when aiming for a goal. When they find the one big thing they really want to pursue, they will have the tools to successfully go about achieving that goal.
When I first started studying all of this, I would look around and observe people who were where I wanted to be or who were where my kids wanted to be. We would point out these traits in people like Mother Teresa, Richard Branson, Elon Musk, and so many more. Enjoy exploring these traits with your family.
Tune in next week for five more habits and traits of successful and happy adults!