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The Teacher Tip

Teach Kids to Savor the Struggle

April 6, 2018

The following is adapted from the article “How We Get Better: How Do We Get Kids to Savor the Struggle?” by Ellin Oliver Keene.

Even when children don’t seem to be showing it, you should assume that every child has the drive to learn and can find joy in intellectually challenging experiences. Joy in struggle is an uncommon idea, but something we’ve all experienced and grown from. When you let children see you struggle as you read difficult texts, you teach them that it’s an integral part of learning, not just in reading but in all disciplines.

Try these tips:

  • Make anchor charts for the classroom that focus on solving comprehension problems as well as word level problems. Encourage students to add to the chart.
  • Model with a colleague or student to show how readers work with each other to solve problems and incorporate other points of view in interpretations.
  • Encourage rereading! Emphasize that those who are lucky enough to reread will find insights and understandings far beyond the initial read.
  • Encourage students to tackle more complex texts. Think about the complexity of ideas, not just about the level. Students can read texts that address bigger ideas, controversial issues, and problems relevant to their lives.
  • Don’t give up! Savoring the struggle isn’t learned quickly.

To learn more about the work of Ellin Oliver Keene, visit 

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