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Why It's Important To Challenge Your Children

Being a mum is demanding. You have to raise well-rounded children while taking care of your family, yourself, and the household. It’s a job I never expected to be any good at, and like all parents, I’m certain I’m getting it wrong most of the time. What I’ve learned over the years is that children these days aren’t challenged like I used to be as a child. In fact, they’re given “Participation Trophies” or discouraged from competing in everything except sport, and this results in children who are afraid of challenges. That’s why it’s important to challenge your children.


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Back in the 80s


When I was in school (before dinosaurs roamed the earth, as my son would say) we had to work hard for everything. If you wanted to be better, you worked for it. Whether it was sports or academia, if you were good at something and could get ahead, they praised you. At 10 years old I remember completing maths books the school had, and they needed to ask the local High School for help. The High School sent extra work books for me to complete and I worked my way through them. By the time I moved up to the High School I was half way through the books they’d sent, which put me ahead of my peers. My Junior School did all they could to help me progress. They helped me excel.





The roughest roads often lead to the top.

Christina Aguilera





My husband had a unique schooling experience. His Head Teacher taught him maths because he was so far ahead. He had the opportunity to attend college at 8 years old. Studying computer programming and being able to attend college and school, put him way ahead. A University graduate he got a good job, and today he’s still a programmer. Early years opportunities made a tremendous difference to his life.



School Today


My boys attended the same Primary School and we’ve had a similar experience with both of them. It started when they began learning maths in the early years of school. They found it easy. Any unfamiliar concepts were simple to grasp. They excelled at times tables, relished fractions, and found addition and subtraction too easy. 

As first-time parents, we didn’t know how to tackle the issue when our eldest son was getting bored with maths. He wasn’t challenged. He found it all too easy, and he wasn’t being pushed to his potential so was bored. When we spoke to the school, they said he hadn’t mastered the basics and needed to work more on that. Like I said, we were first-time parents so we put our trust in the school. Unfortunately, our eldest lost interest in pushing himself further and by the time he moved up to High School he was just like his peers - not enthused about maths. Thankfully, he found his passion for maths again in High School and he enjoys it now.


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The second time around we knew better. The school had changed the activities they got the children to do and part of the new system were special tests. The children were challenged to complete a times tables test within a certain time. Great, right? Well, yes, good in that the kids are being challenged - but what happens when your child can complete the test within the time? Well then, they have a new time challenge. And another. And another. To the point that your child knows all the answers to the test, and it’s their ability to write fast enough that limits the time challenge. It’s not really a challenge when you get to that point, is it? Repeating times tables is only useful when the children don’t know them. Once they’re memorised there’s no point in further repetition. 

Our youngest son is good at maths, and he loves a challenge. However, the school seem unable (or unwilling) to challenge him. Since he started Year 1 we’ve had to talk to the school repeatedly about challenging him because he loves maths and wants more of a challenge. But it never happened. There were more tests, more times tables, and eventually those tests were dropped because it didn’t achieve anything. Any work they gave my son was too easy. He completed it in minutes and didn’t get to move on. He works on the same things again and again, never challenged. He moves up to High School in September and is looking forward to the more difficult maths he’ll be able to tackle.



When do we challenge our children?


My long rant goes to the main point of this post - what happens when your children aren’t challenged? In my experience, they fail to learn perseverance. This massively important trait is something we, as parents, now have the job of teaching. 

When you’re challenged, you learn to keep trying, even if you get something wrong. If you find something easy, then you’re suddenly challenged, your initial reaction will be to give up. I know this. My children do not like facing things that are difficult. When they struggle with a topic, they get upset and want to give up. They expect to be able to do any task they’re given. They haven’t faced difficulties, so haven’t learned to persevere. It’s worrying for me as a mum, because life is not easy. You’re constantly faced with challenges and obstacles in life, so perseverance is an important trait to have.

So it falls to me and their Dad to teach them perseverance



Giving your children challenges


If your children are challenged in school, that’s great, if they don’t get maths quite as fast as others they’ll learn to keep trying. But when your children find things easy, they need new ways to be challenged.





Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.

Robert F. Kennedy





Some children love challenges, they thrive when they have a target to aim for. Other children hate the challenges and may even lose their temper when faced with something they can’t do. No matter what your child does, it’s important to make them face challenges and work hard to complete them.

Because our children love gaming, we challenge them using older games. Back in the day, games were more difficult than they are today. Story led games had challenges that you needed to try a hundred times before you completed them - so we use these games as a way to teach our children perseverance. They complete a story mode on a particular game, or complete the game 100%. 


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We use games to teach them because games are a huge part of their lives and they talk about and play games with their friends. It’s also a way of teaching them without them feeling like they’re being taught. If they can have fun as well as be challenged then you’re winning.

Whether your children are academically challenged or find it easy, there are ways to teach them at home. It’s all about finding what works for your children. Giving them challenges, no matter what the context, is important and will teach them valuable life lessons.



Do you challenge your children?

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