Have you ever noticed that children who have learning challenges tend to grow up to be very tenacious adults? They often have to work extra hard to be noticed in the classroom, they sometimes have social challenges that need extra guidance to work through, and they know that if they give up they will face even more challenges. If they are not tenacious, they tend to lose confidence very quickly.

bird-386725_1280The last few weeks we have had a tenacious blue jay in our back yard.  Usually we grow several rows of sunflowers in the garden, and most of their seeds are consumed by the blue jays all autumn.  I always tried to save a few seeds to replant the following spring, but the birds were usually faster than me.  This year, probably because of the dry summer, we did not have many sunflowers.  Consequently, the blue jays have been knocking on the kitchen windows, chattering noisily, flying up against the window – doing everything they can to get our attention, on a daily basis.  They don’t give up! We had no peace for two weeks, until we finally put some seeds in the feeder for them.  Now that’s tenacity!

We as teachers should be just as tenacious. Do we do everything we can, to get our students to learn? Does every ounce of our energy go into the learning process?  If a child continues to struggle, do we alert their parents, even if it might be a hard conversation to have?

Do we do everything we can, to get our students to learn?

Parenting involves a large measure of tenacity as well.  When your child comes home from school, and hides their homework in the back closet – do you bring it out and sit down with them to work through it, even if it might mean a minor meltdown? Or just let it go for the day? Do we sit down with them every evening and connect, even if we had a hard day at work? Parenting involves daily patience and tenacity with each child.

Educational therapists also need endless supplies of tenacity.  One day last week I had a student trying to tap dance while doing rhythmic writing, another one who forgot her homework for two weeks in a row, and another one who kept running to the window to watch the squirrels running up the slide.  Patiently maneuvering through this takes tenacity!

The good news is that tenacity pays off! To see the child’s eyes light up after finishing an easy reader book with very little intervention, makes it all worth it! We can laugh together when trying to throw two balls at the same time, counting by fours forwards and backwards.  We can cry together when it just seems too hard to memorize the work. Tenacity works for the blue jays, it works for the squirrels hiding away their winter stash of nuts, and it works for us and our students.

Remember to reward your student’s efforts, encourage them along the way, and stop and watch the squirrels or blue jays for a while when the going just gets too tough.