First News > Beyond the Grades – How to Build a Well-Rounded Child

Beyond the Grades – How to Build a Well-Rounded Child

As clued in parents, we understand that education is about more than grades — it’s about developing a well-rounded child that’s resilient and successful as they move through the world around them.

Raising a well-rounded child isn’t easy. It takes more than just good grades. The qualities of a well-rounded child are gleaned through diverse work and play, participation in a range of activities and challenges, and opportunities to learn self-discipline, responsibility, leadership, teamwork, and communication skills.

If you want to know how to raise a well-rounded child, we’ve put together this handy guide.

What Makes a Well-Rounded Child?

Raising a well-rounded child means cultivating the things more important than grades.

Well-rounded children experience a balanced lifestyle that combines intellectual, emotional, and physical health through a diverse spectrum of activities. Strong listeners and communicators, well-rounded children exhibit empathetic behaviour, open-mindedness, curiosity, and solid self-discipline.

The qualities of a well-rounded child are important when starting grammar schools as they show individual responsibility for learning and the ability to collaborate will be invaluable skills. This is especially poignant when coping with the workload and adjusting to new circumstances.

9 Tips for Developing a Well-Rounded Child

As a parent, raising a well-rounded child comes down to your drive to provide a diverse and engaging timetable that uses growth mindset to encourage self-improvement.

Try these handy tips for creating a well-rounded child:

 Support Varied Interests

Often children get pegged as ‘Science’ or ‘English’ kids at a young age. Instead of limiting your child, encourage them to explore all aspects of learning. Playing an instrument, reading from a book, and playing a contact sport are all very different ways of learning.

In doing this, you not only help to broaden your child’s experiences, you also cultivate different learning styles. While playing an instrument may require your child to learn by ear, reading a book is a more cognitive skill, and playing a contact sport requires hand-eye coordination and guts!

As a rule, if you’re bound by budget — steer clear of expensive gear! While skiing and saxophone lessons may be the coolest pick of the bunch, try to encourage cheap or free groups or activities that achieve the same result. Scouts, for example, provides outdoor adventure, while guitars can be picked up cheaply and it’s easy to learn online.

Encourage Practice

Don’t fall into the trap of the ‘talent myth’. While your child may have a leaning toward a certain skill, practice is key to developing a well-rounded child. Practice not only leads to significant improvement over time, it also demonstrates dedication and self-discipline. Most importantly, it teaches children the lesson of cumulative results for cumulative effort over time.

Schedule times for practicing different activities — whether that be shooting basketball hoops, baking cakes, or writing poetry.

Understand Push and Pull

Nudging your child toward challenges and opportunities is a parents job. However, there is a fine line between being a supporter and being a ‘Helicopter Parent’. While promoting dedication is important, it’s also vital to understand when your child isn’t interested.

Consider the activities in your child’s schedule. Say your child is unhappy every week they have to attend a group, talk to them and ask them why, offering routes to improvement. If none of these work, accept that they might want to quit. Try to replace this time with a new activity or group.

Alternatively, however, if your child is showing resistance to a regular club because a birthday party has come up, this could be a good time to push them toward demonstrating commitment for the team

Empathetic Feedback

It’s important to register how your child’s lifestyle is developing them into a well-rounded child. One of the ways of doing this is by checking in with regular feedback sessions. Ask thinking and feeling questions that revolve around how your child feels they improve from a certain club or interest, and what more they could get from that time.

To effectively take in this feedback, it’s integral that parents are active listeners in these moments. Being ‘all ears’ ensures kids know they can talk openly and honestly about their experiences, which also helps to develop self-reflection and communication skills.

Promote Balance

It’s no good your child staying up to read their English book all night if their mood suffers due to sleep deprivation. It’s no worthless participating in lots of sports clubs if your child is too tired or busy to do their homework. Promote balance in your child’s life. This includes time for rest and relaxation, self-care, and play.

Get Off Screens

Smartphones, tablets, and laptops can be a black hole of time that kids get sucked into. Social media is turning our kids into social zombies, while blue-light emitting devices are keeping us up at night.

While smart devices are a great tool for research and entertainment, we need to make sure they’re not taking over our children’s lives. Encourage outdoor play during social time, offering up opportunities for more tactile learning that challenges your child’s mind and body.

Making sure all devices are switched off an hour or two before bed is also a notable way to reduce the effects on your child’s sleep.

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Encourage Responsibility & Self-Discipline

One of the major qualities of a well-rounded child is a sense of responsibility and self-discipline.

You can instil personal responsibility at home through chores, homework schedules, and small money-making projects. Negotiating bedtimes, reward systems, and punishments also works toward personal accountability.

Try to promote good time and resource management by helping your children create schedules and systems and stick to them.

Promote Self-Competition

It’s easy to compare our kids to other children in the class. A well-rounded child focuses on improving themselves rather than beating others. Using a growth mindset, we can encourage our children to reflect on challenges they’re facing and figure out solutions to overcome these. In this manner, we foster the principle of improving upon oneself each time, using available resources to learn and grow — rather than wasting effort worrying about other people.

Work on Communication

Communication skills demonstrate a child’s capacity to understand the world around them and convey their subjective version of that. Shyness often occurs when children don’t have the skills to do this, don’t have the role models to learn from, or have never had the opportunities to practice clear communication.

As parents, we develop well-rounded children by asking open questions that help our children consider a topic from all angles and viewpoints. Setting an example ourselves with our own answers, we can demonstrate clear and concise speech patterns. At the same time, we can also throw in new words to broaden their vocabulary.

Urge your children to read broadly, as this also helps to diversify their vocabulary. Varying narrative formats — from newspapers like First News to novels — will also help to demonstrate an array of ways to communicate.

Leadership & Teamwork

Leadership and teamwork are both essential skills in the everyday world. In most careers, we act as both leaders and team players depending on the task we’re assigned to. In this sense, it’s integral we develop both of these skills in our children.

Joining various clubs and groups will help to foster teamwork skills, while also providing opportunities for leadership. For example a theatre group may offer both opportunities to be in the cast and to direct a play. A Scout group may present team sports tournaments, but give your child the lead on navigating a hike.

So Why is All This Important?

For your child to truly flourish they need to display a more well-rounded set of skills and attributes. While your child may just be entering secondary schooling, these qualities will become more important as your child moves through the years to university application. Universities are seeking well-rounded young people as these are far more attractive to top employers.

In the wider scheme of things, the world is moving at a different pace to early decades. There are far more opportunities for freelancer and remote positions, with start-ups and grassroots organisations showing the benefits of entrepreneurship.

Raising a well-rounded child puts them in great stead to embody these new ways of working and adapt to the future world.

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