“But we didn’t win!” How many times have you heard that complaint from your competitive children? And how many times have you wanted to hug them and tell them the cursory, “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game?” To that, you’ll likely get a dramatic eye roll. However, winning and losing is much more than playing the game; it’s what your children learn as a result that holds the true pot of educational gold for them.
Winning takes on many forms. You win when your score is higher (or lower, depending on the sport) than your opponent’s score. You win when you improve your own performance. You win when everyone agrees with your side of an argument. You win when a lottery ticket matches the numbers drawn. See? Lots of ways to win. However, none of these is academically or socially educational. What if you could teach your children that they win when they learn something from their activity? Here are a few examples:
Sports: Your son just lost the championship game for his team because he allowed a home run to score. Bummer! He is despondent. His team appears to hate him. And his coach doesn’t even want to look at him. Granted, a bowl of ice cream might make him feel a little better, but only temporarily. Let him know that he did learn something from his experience, and that makes him a winner. What did he learn? Maybe that the speed and direction of the ball is dependent not only on a hitter’s ability, but also on the weather. Did the wind intercept the ball before he could catch it in his glove? Show him how to avoid this mistake next season by tossing some grass in the air to see which way the wind takes it. Look for other ways to show your young player that he is a winner when he learns from his mistakes. Physics is a powerful component of all sports!
School: Your daughter didn’t win the regional spelling bee, losing in the last round by misspelling an obscure word like guetapens, the winning word in the 2012 National Spelling Be. (It's a noun which means traps.) However, she is a winner because she can spell better than everyone in her class who did not qualify for the regional bee. She is a winner because she learned to lose gracefully. And she is a winner because she will always be a wonderful linguist. Mastery of a language ensures success in other areas of a person’s life.
Family: Your two children are arguing over which program to watch before bedtime. If you decide for them, one becomes the winner and the other becomes the loser. One will gloat and the other will sulk. It’s not pretty! Instead, turn this into a teaching moment by turning off the TV. Tell them that when they decide how to equitably choose the show, you will turn the TV back on. This may take a while, and both shows may be over by the time they come to an agreement. However, both come out as winners because they were able to compromise and agree on a system they can both live with. Score one for the smart parent!
Your children become winners because they have learned the necessary skill of fair negotiation.
Though these three examples, you’ll see the three components of the Entelechy Education, LLC line of books and games, which we call STEM-C®: STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), language literacy, and character education. Which of our books or games will you choose for your children to enjoy while they learn that anyone who reads is a winner? Our newest book, Everybody Cooks! STEM Facts and Recipes for Family Cooperation and Healthier Eating - Holiday Favorites Edition, shows families how to cooperate to create a recipe, what STEM concepts are involved in the food process, and the definitions of cooking terms - a perfect combination of STEM-C®!
Author: Renee Heiss