Plenty of research points to the importance of social and emotional learning, and how it contributes to a students’ development. Education is about the whole child, not just academics! Social skills are more than just the ability to be social with peers and teachers, though. Leadership, especially within ones’ community, is an increasingly important skill and one that is difficult to teach. As an American school in Dubai, we understand the importance of creating future leaders, especially in the expat community.
Some people think that you must have certain natural qualities to be a leader but that is not necessarily true! While there are innate characteristics that help some students become “natural-born” leaders, here are some ways to encourage and promote leadership in any student.
Discuss the importance of leadership.
Having an in-depth conversation with your child about why being a leader is important is a great first step. Students who understand what leadership means and its implications are more likely to take on the role. Making good choices and standing up for what is right are crucial social skills that will have positive effects long down the line. For students especially, being able to lead in the right direction in the face of peer pressure can be a little easier if the importance of doing so is impressed upon them. At our online school based in Dubai, we give students plenty of opportunities and independence to become leaders in their academics.
Teach your student about leaders you admire in your community. Every community has its leaders and it’s important for children to understand what they do and the differences they’ve made. It not only gives them a sense of what is required to be an effective leader, but also a sense of understanding about their community. Discuss with your children ways that leaders in your community have made it better and take it a step further! Ask your children what they would do to improve their community and how they would go about it.
Set a good example. Children learn the most from the most important people in their lives. If they see their parents and other adults they respect being fair leaders, then they will also be encouraged to do so. Point out examples of your leadership style and opportunities that you take, at work and at home, to be an effective leader.
Get your child invested in a cause that is important to them. No matter where you live, there are opportunities to effect positive change. The causes that are important to you are a great place to start getting your children involved with giving back and creating change. However, as your children get older and more comfortable with the idea, let them choose the causes that are important to them. Being able to choose and express their passion for a cause will make it easier for them to step into a leadership position. They will be able to learn what their strengths are, come up with new ideas and ways to implement them, and enjoy themselves while doing it. Our students schooling online in Dubai and around the world have unlimited opportunities to find their passion and get involved.
Get them involved in extracurricular activities. All schools (even online schools!) have a variety of extracurricular activities that let students explore interests outside of academics, but in a comfortable setting with people they are familiar with. Aside from hopefully having fun and getting the chance to explore new interests, extracurricular activities often need people to lead them such as presidents, vice presidents, treasurers, and secretaries. This introduction to responsibility lays the groundwork for future leadership roles.
Give them space and opportunities. Many students are used to their teachers and parents being the main leaders in their life, so it can be hard for them to see how to implement leadership skills themselves. Give your child opportunities to lead at home and let them solve problems independently if they arise. Taking care of younger siblings, household chores, and simple budgeting activities are great ways to give you child a boost of confidence and the chance to step into a natural leadership position.
Point out when you see good leadership skills. If you come across someone with strong leadership skills in everyday life, help your children notice them. Perhaps even more importantly, point out when you see your children exhibiting good leadership skills! Positive reinforcement and encouragement are proven ways to solidify skills and behaviors.
*iCademy Middle East is an American curriculum online school that provides a comprehensive education to students based in the UAE and around the world. We are NEASC and KHDA accredited, and provide individualized learning and instruction from grades K through 12.