Some children are born leaders; prime ministers or CEOs in the making. Other children are naturally quieter and more reserved. But all children have the skills of leadership within them, waiting to become our future politicians, captains of industry and community leaders.
What does leadership look like in an educational setting? Think of the leaders in your daily lives, and the qualities we expect them to display: leading by example, encouraging cooperation, and strategically planning for the future. These are the qualities we expect from students and their educators.
Research consistently shows that anyone can be a leader. It’s not about occupying the highest position, but about having the best qualities and values for a project. It’s not just about telling people what to do, but also listening to them. And it’s something that is open to everyone.
What are some of the steps to making your child into one of the shining stars of tomorrow? It’s all about planning for their future through educational goals and nurturing their skills so that they can realise their full potential. This is what Little Geniuses is all about.
Someone who leads is someone who reads! Learning is at the heart of becoming a leader. As a leader, you will need to have as much information as possible to make well-informed choices. Further, having an open mind is essential to deal with different situations, as well as learning from your mistakes.
To assist your child, encourage them to watch the half-hour news program every night; read at least two news articles each day; listen to educational podcasts on the way to school; or find interests outside of school, like coding. And, of course, make sure that you’re planning for educational milestones – as we do at Little Geniuses – to keep your child’s learning progress on track.
The best leaders are those who behave ethically. This means knowing and doing what is right, and thinking about the needs of others. An ethical leader has a strong moral code that guides them to make the right decision, even if a less ethical option seems easier or more enticing. By being ethical, these leaders leave a positive difference in the world and inspire those around them.
To become ethical leaders, children need to be able to deal with the many ethical issues they will face in their lives. The best way to teach your child ethics is through kind behaviours. Encourage your child to assist people in need, lend a hand, or give up their seat to an elderly person. When watching a movie or reading a story, discuss the behaviours of the characters with your child so that they understand what it’s like to act ethically.
Our A Fun Phonics Series is all about teaching kids morals, Your child will learn a new lesson through each book. In Book E – Ella Cares the for the Earth, children learn the importance of keeping our earth beautiful and clean.
Being accountable for one’s academic progress develops the key skills we associate with leaders: commitment and pride in one’s work; performing tasks to deadlines; and planning one’s time effectively. We don’t expect our leaders to forget about their assignments or make excuses for incomplete homework – and we don’t expect our students to either.
To help your child become a responsible leader, it is important to teach them that they – and not their parents or teachers – are accountable for their actions. So give them the op- portunity to take charge of their academic success. Help your child design an academic plan – setting out goals and a strategy for what they hope to achieve during a term – and have them sign it. Each week, ask your child to grade their commitment to their schoolwork on a scale from 1-5. Soon your child will begin to see that they are the only person accountable for their academic success.
Effective decision-making is an essential leadership skill. Leaders make dozens of decisions – from simple to complex – on a daily basis. They must often make these decisions quickly, be able to weigh up all the options before them, and be confident in their final choice. It is these decisions that define a leader’s success.
We introduce decisions slowly but surely into our children’s lives. To help encourage confident and considerate decision-making try using games. Problem-solving exercises like Sudoku or chess are a great way to allow children to deploy strategies in a low-risk context. Letting them decide in hypothetical scenarios what they would eat, or wear, is also ideal for introducing decisions at a young age.
And then there’s the key decision that most young people will encounter in their lives: how their education will unfold. Making choices about schools, subjects and study plans helps students to rise to the top of their class. Having a firm guiding hand – by educators and tu- tors with years’ experience – is important.
At Little Geniuses, we guide your child through subject selection and how best to maximise their marks for the HSC and beyond.
Being optimistic is essential for success. A leader understands there will be many people throughout their life who will tell them why they can’t do something. A leader is empowered to maintain a positive attitude no matter what the people around them say or do. A leader stands up to peer pressure to make choices for themselves. Teach your child to say “Yes I can!” even when they are not sure.
We all need positive reinforcement in our lives to balance our negative experiences, and to drown out our inner-critics. And this applies to others just as much as to ourselves. Focus on your child’s strengths to boost their self-esteem and confidence, and encourage them to take pride in their individuality. One way of doing this is to have a weekly ‘compliment chat’; encourage your family members to identify a strength or success that they achieved during the week.
Becoming a great leader doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it can take years of experience, personal growth and difficult challenges to become successful. On this journey, leaders can benefit greatly from having a role-model or mentor. Mentors can give advice, strategies and new perspectives, as they have often had similar experiences in the past.
A mentor can be invaluable for children. A trusted friend or family member – OR TUTOR(!) – can be a great mentor, giving children something to aim for. We can never underestimate the ways that role models shape our thoughts, feelings and attitudes in subtle ways every day. Another option is to get your child to write a list of people they look up to. Discuss what paths these people took, or what challenges they overcame, to become successful.
Our education professionals at Little Geniuses are academic experts as well as counsellors and mentors to your child. They are trained to pinpoint issues – poor time planning, dif- ficulties with subject selection and problems with assessments – and negotiate solutions with students. What better way is there for children to see the mentoring experience first- hand – and to become mentors themselves for the next generation?
The best way to set goals is to visualise them: to put pen to paper, or mouse to screen, or paint to canvas, and put together a vision board or mind-map. Goals at a young age can be as simple as knowing what instrument someone wants to master, or what sport they want to play. These small goals are part of a broader picture, though: they’re all asking the big question, ‘What do I want to be when I grow up?’
At Little Geniuses, we believe that no one is born a genius. We know that the most successful students are those who are organised, dedicated and hard working. Whether it is dealing with weekly homework, an upcoming assignment or final exams, we ensure that our students set regular and achievable goals to be successful.
The best leaders lead to serve others, not to just further their own agendas. Leaders are generous with their time and their energy. Further, the best leaders do not get to their po- sition by defeating their opponents or holding others back. They encourage people to succeed, knowing that this will have benefits for everyone.
Encourage your child to help those around them. Make donations of clothes and toys to charities or sign up for a community activity. Encourage your child to perform chores to elderly relatives or neighbours. Help your child recognise when their own friends may require help; such as making them soup when they are ill or helping them pack when they move house.
In our soon to be released A Fun Phonics Series Book H Henry Lends a Helping Hand, the book teaches kids to lend their friends a helping hand through fun and interesting farm animals.
There is no way to be a leader without having excellent communication skills with people from all walks of life. The key is knowing where one fits in a certain context – whether you’re in a classroom, a playground, an assembly, or a principal’s office – and knowing the correct behaviour.
Children learn their interpersonal and social skills from experience. Allow your children to interact with a range of people. Let them order their own meal at a restaurant; encourage them to ask for assistance in a store; and when visiting friends or family, include your child in the conversation. Further, ensure you identify and demonstrate the importance of non-verbal communication: eye-contact, gestures and body posture.
Mistakes and failure are an integral part of life. Leaders learn to do their best and are not beaten down by their mistakes. They pick themselves up and dust themselves off. Leaders learn to ask themselves how they can do better.
Teaching children perseverance can be a difficult task. Often they will want to give up when things get too hard! Importantly, you must applaud your child’s effort, not just their success. Set up a system that rewards your child when they achieve small milestones. For example, practicing the piano for an hour each day or finishing a difficult book. Further, if a child is struggling with a goal, help them envision the benefits of perseverance. Ask them, “what do you think it will feel like to do better in the next test?”
In our soon to be released A Fun Phonics Series Book I Izzy’s Incredible Invention, kids learn that it is important to keep trying, even when we don’t succeed at first.
Leadership within an educational setting is a journey for children as they learn to become the best and brightest version of themselves. But, of course, it’s a two-way process for us at Little Geniuses because we need to be leaders as well. By learn- ing, helping, making decisions, setting goals and persevering, we can be the best we can be in order to make a big difference in children’s lives.
If you are interested in knowing how Little Geniuses can help your child, visit www.littlegeniuses.com.au
To see how Little Geniuses' A Fun Phonics Series can teach your child these leadership
qualities, visit www.geniuspublishing.com.au
 Adapted from: Siraj-Blatchford, I., & Manni, L. (2007). Effective leadership in the early years sector: The ELEYS study. London: Institute of Education, University of London.