Developing leadership and initiative in your child

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During Northoaks Primary School’s open house last year, its Primary 1 students played host to parents and children, with some serving as tour guides and others putting on performances. The school’s efforts to nurture leadership in its students were well-received by parents, who praised it for helping them develop self-confidence and initiative.

Leadership boosts your child’s confidence
Mother-of-two Kristie Chen, who has a daughter in Primary 5, is one such parent. She believes “leadership helps develop confidence”, “awareness of [other kids’] considerations when put into a position of power”, and prepares them for high-level leadership positions as adults. To instil leadership in her children, she sets clear expectations when it comes to homework deadlines, encourages negotiation between them and their teachers, and gives them responsibilities such as training the family dog.

It takes time to learn and put into practice
Karen Lee, client partner in education practice for FranklinCovey, an international company specialising in performance improvement, emphasises that leadership is a skill that requires time to learn and internalise.

Developed for schools, the company’s ‘The Leader in Me’ process draws on founder Dr Stephen R. Covey’s ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ to integrate leadership development into existing programmes, curricula and traditions. The company trains teachers to continually reinforce the 7 Habits framework and other leadership principles in classes and student interactions on a daily basis.

The programme doesn’t just impart leadership skills – students also achieve better grades as a result. This video, titled ‘Rippling Across The Globe’, shows how student leaders have higher SAT scores.

Outside of the classroom, MOE’s ‘ACTITUDE’ Leadership Camp for selected students from the Gifted Education Programme aims to foster teamwork and bonding. Throughout a three-day residential camp, students get to develop and apply leadership skills, as well as reflect on their experiences to become better leaders.

Set an example
Want to bring out the leader in your child? You can start by setting an example. Children mimic their parents’ actions and how you juggle your roles as a parent and professional sets a precedent for their behaviour. If your child expresses interest in sports or the arts, encourage them to go for it. Participating in group activities helps them learn the value of teamwork. It’s also a good idea to let them make their own decisions when they’re young; deciding what colour T-shirt to wear or what book to read trains their ability to make good, informed decisions early on. When planning family gatherings or holidays, involve your child in the process and view each event as a project. This helps to develop their project planning skills. For more tips, check out this link.

Leadership cannot be merely taught or imparted instantaneously. It requires constant practice and conscious habit-making for it to be developed in your child. With your support, a nurturing environment and a whole lot of perseverance, your child is all set to become the leader of tomorrow.

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