Risk-Taker STEM Profile


SPARK STEM Profile of the month FOCUS: Risk Taker

RISK TAKER:  I have the courage to try new things.  I am not afraid to give it a try.  I try to solve problems in a lot of new ways.

When we talk about RISK-TAKING, we’re not talking about activities typically associated in our culture with taking risks--bungee jumping, skydiving, base-jumping, trekking Mt. Everest, entering the can-you-eat-the-hottest-jalapeño-pepper-on-earth contest, or other extreme events. Let’s be frank—there’s a difference between educated risk taking and hazardous activities, especially for preschoolers!  Risk-taking from our perspective is what allows a person who wants to try new things to do them because they have the confidence to try.  As we take risks, changing ideas, habits, ways of thinking, etc. becomes easier. This is especially important in STEM-based learning as we are encouraging children to use trial, error, mistakes, and failures as learning opportunities to iterate and reiterate their prototypes.  If we try once, with failure, we hop back in and keep trying new things.  Fortunately with preschoolers, we do not often see that they have social reactions to their failures which cause them to retreat or withdraw -- instead they generally naturally continue trials and errors at this age.  Let's keep them thinking this way!

How can parents help to develop children who are Risk-Takers?

1.  If your child is feeling uneasy about trying something, encourage them to attempt it and then reflect on both whether they liked the activity (or not) and how it felt to try something new.

2. Help your child to set some short-term, achievable goals. Consider setting goals for activities that make him/her nervous. What is a realistic goal for the week? Your child might set a goal to:

·      Offer an opinion in class

·      Spend time playing with someone they might not usually play with

·      Try a new food

·      Try an activity they haven’t tried before

·      Select a type of book they don’t normally pick at the library.

·      Give another student / family member a compliment.

3.  Be careful to explain to your child the difference between being a risk-taker by trying new things and doing dangerous things.

4.  Catch your child being a risk-taker.  Make sure your child knows he/she has done something good.

5.  Point out positive risk-taking in the adult world and in daily situations as they come up for you.

6.  Encourage your child to stay in touch with relatives and friends who live in other countries, states, and cities by writing letters, using the phone or sending email.

7.  Tell them about risks you are taking as you are taking.  Talk about them aloud as you do them.  Describe what you’re feeling and why you are making the decision to take the risk.

8. Ask your child thought provoking questions and encourage them to discuss them with you. For example:

  • What would you do if you were scared of someone?
  • Is there anything you cannot buy with money?
  • Is that fair? right?  Why do you think so? 

9.  Work with your child to improve his/her listening skills. Being a good listener is an important part of communicating with others.

Tagged in Risk-Taking, STEM