4 Benefits to Letting Students Struggle

Sometimes letting students struggle is the best strategy.  Wait what?  Stay with me here.  You wake up in the morning and your alarm is screaming at you while the dog barks. Your kid throws up, and you realize you forgot to put the clothes from the washer into the dryer. On mornings like this you know “the struggle was real.”
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But have you ever stopped to think that there was a benefit or several benefits to that struggle? As teachers, we see students struggle to grasp various concepts daily and we want to get in there and save them from frustration. Before you swoop in to save the day, think about this: struggling can benefit your student. Wait. Hold the phone. There are benefits to struggling? The simple answer is yes! Allowing your students to struggle can help them in four incredible ways.
[bctt tweet=”Before you swoop in to save the day, think about this: struggling can benefit your student. In this blog post we look at how letting students struggle can help them in four incredible ways. ” username=”farrah_henley”]

Letting Students Struggle: Tip #1 Hmmm…how do you….

The first way struggling helps your students is by letting them work their way through a problem. Many employers say they are looking for people with good “problem solving skills.” Currently, we live in a world where the right answer is a short search away. Very rarely do we have to really sit down and really work through something in our world because of technology. While this is a great tool, there’s no substitution for using your creative mind to solve a difficult problem.  Allowing your students to sit down and struggle through a problem, will increase their problem solving skills and help them not only in future classes, but also in their future careers.

Letting Students Struggle: Tip #2 I know!

Another way “the struggle” benefits students is in comprehension of content. When you allow a student to struggle through a problem, they end up understanding the content more. Whenever we have to work to do something, we tend to remember not only the process, but the end result. For example, learning how to ride a bike.  When you are first learning how to ride a bike, you fall down, you get some scrapes but you always get back on.
Eventually you do just fine with no training wheels and no one holding onto your bike seat. After all of the scrapes and bruises, you remember how to ride a bike and probably still do to this day. Just as you learned how to ride a bike, your students will learn the content and have a deeper understanding of it because they practiced a skill and figured it out on their own.

Letting Students Struggle: Tip #3 I got it!

Along with teaching students problem-solving skills and giving them a deeper understanding of content, struggling can also increase their self-confidence. While it may be easier to swoop in and help a struggling student, they will not learn the process and reward of making it through a trying problem. When a student struggles, it’s important to let them struggle. When they get the answer, you’ll get that wonderful lightbulb moment. On top of that, you will get a student who has more confidence not only in their problem solving skills, not just in the content, but also in their overall ability to succeed.

Letting Students Struggle: Tip #4 No Fear Failure!

The final way allowing a student to struggle ultimately benefits them is huge. If there is one thing everyone in this world has feared at one point in time in their lives, it’s the fear of failure. Being a “failure” or “failing” has become such a taboo idea. When you allow students to struggle and they fail and fail but eventually succeed, they stop fearing failure.
Whether you are fearful of failure or not, it’s a part of life. Many kids today don’t know that feeling because we have become a society focused on “good feelings” and making sure everyone feels special. While this is fine, there will be a time in each child’s life where no one will care about making them feel good. It’s sad but true. If we get students accustomed to failure and the benefit of self-confidence when you work through it, we will have taught them one of the greatest lessons.
So, the “struggle might be real” real often, but the struggle is a learning tool that cannot be replaced by any standard or benchmark test. Struggling is life’s lesson. Struggling is life’s way of pushing you and you can either push back or lay there. Let’s teach our students to push back.
Looking for other helpful tips and tricks for the classroom?  Check out these other blog posts!
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Until Next Time, Happy Teaching!
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