“Goldilocks and the 3 Bears”

October 7, 2022

I am sure we all know the story, “Goldilocks and the 3 bears”. It is a lovely story that has an excellent parenting and teaching technique hidden within it. In the three situations Goldilocks faced, it was either too high or too low (the chair); too hot or too cold (porridge), and too hard or too soft (bed). However, in each of these situations she found a “just right”: a chair at just the right height, porridge at just the right temperature, and a bed at just the right softness.

As parents and teachers, we can set goals, tasks or expectations for children at either end of the continuum, either very comfortable or very challenging. Neither is good. We need to set goals, tasks and expectations that are “just right”. If the expectations or goals we set for our children are so comfortable, easy to attain, then we do not extend or push them to work hard. They can become lazy or settle for less than their best work.

If on the other hand, we set our expectations or tasks and goals so high that they are impossible for our children to achieve, this can cause anxiety for our children as they experience failure each time or know that whatever they do achieve is still not good enough.

The best form of teaching and parenting when it comes to tasks, goals or expectations is to set them at the “Goldilocks level” – just right! Setting expectations and tasks that will stretch your child but not break them. Goldilocks tasks that require hard work but can be achieved with that hard work. Setting goals that motivate your child to persevere not perspire (unless it’s on the sports field!).

An example at home might be setting a task where your child is to cook dinner for the family. You could say to your child “cook a 5-course banquet with appropriate wine pairings” – I imagine that would be an impossible challenge for your child, at least it would be for me! You could also say “just fill the pot with water and that is all, I will do the rest”.

The first task is an impossible challenge and sets your child up to fail, but the other task is so easy that the child will know they have not cooked dinner. Far better would be to have the child do tasks such as filling the pot with water, peeling vegetables, timing how long the rice needs to cook for, plating the food and setting the table for dinner.

At CAIS, your child’s teachers will extend your child in their learning at an appropriate yet challenging level. A level that requires hard work and perseverance but is achievable. For some students, this will be a little uncomfortable at first, but as they develop knowledge and skills, they will be able to complete the task with ease. Then onto the next challenge.

Can I challenge CAIS parents to set “goldilocks goals and tasks”. Tasks that are not too comfortable nor far too challenging, but just right! Let your children read books which extends their vocabulary and comprehension without needing a dictionary for every second word 😊. Give them a goldilocks book at just the right level for enjoyment and growth.

Mr. Richard Vanderpyl
Head of School