Series: What Schools Don’t Teach – Article 1: Leadership

Have you noticed how many young people emerge from school dismally prepared for the world beyond? At Euka, it is our goal to ensure the students are well equipped for life beyond the school years. Over the next few months, each Euka newsletter will focus on one skill that is often overlooked in schools, but that is crucial to real-world success. We will look at how you can develop these skills in your children, no matter what age or grade they are in.
We will cover a range of topics including helping your children develop perseverance, effective communication and how to learn from failure. This month we will take a look at Leadership skills and how you can help your child develop them.

Leadership skills allow children to have control of their lives and the ability to make things happen. Leadership instils confidence, and helps children solve problems creatively, work in a team, and work collaboratively with others. Leadership gives children many opportunities to develop responsibility.

There is some debate whether some children are “born leaders” or they “learn to be” leaders. All children have the potential to develop leadership skills. Leadership development can be a lifelong process. As adults, we can teach the skills necessary for children to take on leadership roles now and in the future. Here are some ways that you can help children develop leadership skills:

Model leadership behaviour to children.
Children learn from seeing what others do. Tell the child what you are doing and why you are doing it. Teach children how to see things from another’s point of view. Good communication is a key component to being an effective leader. Teach children how to listen carefully and how to respond to others in a calm and respectful way.
Help children build self-confidence.
Give children opportunities to do a good job and offer praise when appropriate. You might say, “I am so proud of you that you volunteered to be the leader of the ‘craft clean up’. It is a big job to make sure all your siblings are doing their part.”
Find ways to create problem solving situations.
Children can learn how to solve their own problems. Allow children to start making small decisions such as which activity they want to participate in and then give them more opportunities to make decisions as they learn the concepts of responsibility and consequences of making a decision.
Teach children how to work with others in a team situation.
Homeschool group projects or sports activities are ways for children to work on a team.
Assist children to develop a plan or strategy to address a problem or situation.
Children, as well as adults, shy away from leadership tasks because they feel overwhelmed. Show children how to break tasks into workable ways to get the job done.
Encourage children to pursue things that interest them.
They may develop a passion for it and feel comfortable and later take on a leadership role.
Look for leadership opportunities for your children.
Leadership opportunities can be in your scouts or guides program or another program at a church, community or club. Children can also take a leadership role in a family event.
Encourage communication and action.
Leadership involves speaking up or taking action. You can encourage children’s leadership abilities by suggesting projects or identifying problems that may be important to them and helping them to come up with suggestions for actions and possible solutions.

During the year, many organisations hold canned food drives. Ask your child to think about what they would like to do to help.
Some children might become concerned about a little puppy or another animal in your reading story. They wonder what can be done to help animals. Ask them for ideas about what they would do for the puppy if they were in the story. If you have an elderly neighbour ask your child to think of ways to help out a little.

Teaching children how to be a leader at a young age will help children deal with peer pressure in the teenage years. Being a leader is not an exact science, but teaching children the skills needed to be leaders are important to help prepare the next generation to take the lead and become responsible adults.