Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Importance of Teaching Children About Leadership

We see the future of our nation (and the world) as being in the hands of children. The problems that will need to be solved, as well as solutions being enacted today, will be the responsibility of future generations. What's needed to implement these solutions is a healthy supply of quality leaders. The best time to begin emphasizing to children the importance of leadership is when they can grasp a basic understanding of what a leader is. We're not speaking of role models, but rather the basic qualities that define the best leaders.

Recognition
In order for a child to know what leadership is, they have to see it. Most learning in life takes place through visual senses, and children need to learn leadership when they see it. In the home is the logical place for that example to be seen, and parents need to show examples of cooperation, collaboration, and teamwork in the everyday duties that go with a normal, functional family life.

Self-Awareness
In teaching them about leadership, they should be directed to look in the mirror and decide whether they have the necessary qualities to become a leader. The earlier a child realizes their personal character mirrors that of who they perceive to be a leader, the quicker they can be moved in a direction that will foster a learning environment towards leadership. This will create a foundation that can be built on for the rest of their lives.

Guidance
Some prefer to follow rather than lead, and for these children the importance of recognizing the role of a leader and the responsibilities that go with it will teach them two things. The first is that a leadership role is necessary for organizations to function. The second is learning to accept rules established by the leadership to guide their lives in a positive direction.

Responsibility
The idea of responsibility runs though the idea of leadership, but here we are talking about personal responsibility to step up and accept the role of a leader. While some leaders can be trained, there are others who are natural born leaders. Accepting the role of a leader does not come easy to some people, but learning early about the importance of leadership will allow children to see that a leaderless society is one that does not function very well.

One of the difficulties in teaching leadership is the diminishing number of leaders that parents can point to for exemplary character. Children are subjected on a daily basis to negative comments about teachers, politicians at all levels, and their peers. In a society where the hair styles of the key leaders are emphasized more than their roles and responsibilities, many times children are left to create and define their own concept of leadership. Teaching starts in the home though, and parents need to tone down superficial criticism of leaders, and present a model their children can identify with on a daily basis.

Robert Heileman is a teacher and parent that writes all about education. His recent work is on The Top 10 Online Early Childhood Education Master’s Programs.

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