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5 Encouraging Phrases for Kids in an Unusual School Year

1. Practice makes ... better.

Perfection is an illusion, so the phrase we grew up with "practice makes perfect" can be thrown out with the old blackboards. When we start learning how to write, our penmanship gets better slowly, over time, with practice. No one really has perfect penmanship unless your name is "MackBook Pro." So when our kids get frustrated that they didn't do the math problem right the first (or even the second time), we encourage them to keep practicing. They won't get it perfect, but they will get it better.


2. Learning is the goal, not the A.

America was built and sustained by brave people who were willing to try something new and learn. They had an idea, they explored ideas, and they iterated on those ideas. Small business owners make up the bulk of our economy. Did you know most American entrepreneurs were C students? It’s not because they aren’t as smart as the A student. They just learn differently and are motivated by different things. They do better building things and solving hands-on problems than they do taking pencil and paper tests. When A and C students grow up, A students are typically afraid of failing and thus are more inclined to go work for someone else (most likely the C student) in a job that they are pretty confident will be there tomorrow, whereas a C student who was used to getting some questions right and some questions wrong, isn’t afraid to take a risk. "Failing" at a job or two isn't that big of a deal. Kids learn to just pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and try all over again. If your kids learn to love learning, if they figure out a way to persist even when they get the answers wrong, if they develop an affection for the process rather than the outcome, you just might see more As and Bs after all because school work becomes a more relaxed journey rather than a pressure-cooked race to a destination.


3. You are not alone. We are a team.

E pluribus unum. That's Latin for "Out of many, one." That's America's motto, and it can be your family's too. Americans are supposed to work together as a team, but that can only happen when first families choose to function as a team. I tell my kids, "Our family is a team. Huddle up everyone, hands in the middle (they love stacking and seeing whose hand gets to be on top), all together now, '1, 2, 3, G-o-o-o-o Team R-i-i-i-i-i-ner!'" Your children might feel lonely if they started a new school (mine did). Your children might think no one else understands how they're feeling (mine did). If your kids are struggling with virtual school, they might feel like you can't relate; you never had to do that when you were little. If they're back in brick-and-mortar school, they still might think you don't get it, "You never had to wear a mask all day long." Some of that may be technically true, but it doesn't have to feel that way. The Primerrily Crew is practicing ways to incorporate "we" words into our speech, words like "us, team, group, pack." Let's scribble America's motto on a piece of paper, tape it on the bathroom mirror, and write it on our hearts. Check out our Tree House craft to help your kiddos adopt the mantra. Maybe you could even turn it into a chant or a song, just like a baseball team would. Yes, there's only one batter at a time, but the coach and teammates on the bench are just as much "in the game" as the player hoping for first base.


4. You are the only you. The world needs you to be you!

To help your child understand not just how special but also how unique he/she is, make thumbprints of him/her, yourself, and your other family members. No two fingerprints are the same! The biometrics industry is evidence of that. They might be too little to appreciate the retina scan, but let’s show our kids that we need their eyes and their hands on this world. Another activity: take out a puzzle you like playing together. Put together all of the pieces except one. Is the picture complete? No! You need the missing piece to get the full picture. Same goes with your little one. They are an essential piece to our American puzzle.


5. Look up!

Invite your kids on a walk. If you’re schooling from home, remember, it’s hard to sit in front of the computer all day. A walk can help break up the day (plus research shows it’s good for the brain, too). Or if your kids go to brick and mortar school, try inviting them on a walk when they return home. Once outside, take some steps (in a safe part) on the street. What do they see? Maybe some cracks in the sidewalk, perhaps some dirt, maybe even a piece of gum stuck to the road. When they look at those things, how does that make them feel? What do they see when they look up? Blue sky? Clouds? Tree branches? Houses? Birds flying? When we hang our head in despair, nothing good comes from that. We see what’s dirty, what’s rough, and chewed up and spit out. But, if we choose to look up, our spirits are lifted, we can imagine, and we are encouraged. "In God We Trust" is printed on our money. Do we imprint it on our hearts?


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