Building Stamina In Young Learners
Why is building stamina in young learners important? What is STAMINA?
Stamina is the ability to sustain prolonged physical or mental effort.
Why is stamina important to teachers and for students?
Just like you build the stamina to run long distance, you also need to build stamina to read, write, listen, and even sit. Everything we do is affected by stamina.
A child’s ability to do anything for a long period of time absolutely affects what they are able to learn. As a teacher, it is unfair to expect students to do something that they have not been taught, seen modeled, and practiced. Practice builds stamina. We can’t expect a five year old to come into class the first week of school and sit on the carpet for a ten minute lesson, holding their attention without interruption. They have most likely not built the stamina to do that yet. The same thing is true for expecting a child to read at their seat quietly and independently when this is something they have not practiced or built stamina for.
How can you help build a child’s stamina?
Set realistic expectations and goals. If your goal is to have your children reading independently for thirty minutes by the end of the year, back it up and divide the amount of time out to set weekly goals. It’s okay to start with a one minute goal. I know that doesn’t seem like much but you are building a foundation for success. First, you need to model your expectation so students know exactly what to do. They need to SEE what it’s supposed to look like.
Think of it this way. If you were training for a marathon, would you force yourself to run the entire distance the first time you ran? Well, no! You may pass out. I know I would. Ha! You have to train your body for success and not just for a week. People train for months to just complete a marathon.
We need to have the same understanding for the needs of young learners. The greatest gift we can give them is TIME. Time to learn, process and most importantly GROW. So, start small and build from there. Don’t be hard on yourself as the teacher. You can’t make a child do what they are not ready to do. As long as you are consistent and they are growing, you are doing your job. GROWTH=Increased STAMINA
Monitor and celebrate PROGRESS. Don’t measure success by completion, measure success by growth. As long as we are moving forward, we are moving. Yes! So much of early learning is developmental and each child will learn at a different pace. Set individual goals for each student and help them to build on whatever foundation they walk in the door with. They may only be able to read to themselves for one minute now but you just wait and see, it will be ten minutes before you know it. The same thing goes for any area of learning. You can’t expect a child to sit and write page after page of stories.
They need to build writing stamina. Once they can write one page or even one sentence, celebrate it. Once they can sit through an entire story without getting up or asking a million questions, celebrate it! We live in a society where test grades dictate success. Newsflash: all children are not the same. As a teacher, it is SO important that we learn to measure each student’s progress based upon their ability to grow THEIR foundation!
Remember, GROWTH=Increased STAMINA
Be Consistent. If you only run once a week, you won’t be ready for a marathon. The same concept applies when learning in the classroom. If you want a child to build stamina for anything, you must provide consistent structure, practice and expectations. If you become lax on expectation, they will take a step back. A healthy push is good for children. They need to know that you believe in them and know they can be successful. Be consistent. If you skip a day’s work, it will show. Practice creates progress. Progress will increase stamina. Do you see where I keep going here? Ha!
Maybe you haven’t focused on building stamina in young learners in your classroom yet. Guess what? You can start tomorrow! Create a chart with your students and teach them what stamina is and why it is important. Then, set goals. You can even create another resource chart marking your class progress or individual progress and be sure to celebrate that progress.
Remember, stamina in young learners is necessary for all areas: reading, writing, sitting, listening, etc. We have to grow the ability to do all tasks while staying focused and without getting tired.
We can build super readers, writers, listeners, etc. one minute at a time!
Shelly Hess says
Thank you for posting this topic Cyrstal. Very much dedicated on working on stamina building with my Kinders this year. I liked the comparison to training for a marathon – building up and growing in parts not all at once. And oh yes, PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE! After modeling what good reading or writing behaviors look like, it takes so much practice and time to build that stamina to grow towards the goal. Great piece to share with my colleagues!
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