everything curriculum | January 2018

5. Imagine

Children have a fantastic imagination, which mostly declines with age. This decline is the enemy of success. To help children to be successful, we need to help them to keep having ideas as they get older. Encourage them to believe there’s no such thing as a bad idea, as the best way to hit upon a good idea is to have lots. Ways you can help children is to encourage them to listen to other people, teach them to be observant, to not be afraid to ask lots of questions and that it’s OK to borrow ideas from other people, as long as they admit that they’re not their own.

6. Improve

Successful people are always trying to make things better. This doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with what they have, but they know that there is always room for improvement. They try to make good things great. Rather than making any radical transformations, they tend to make lots of small adjustments. This is what we can teach children: great things do not happen suddenly. They are more often the result of lots of tweaking and gradual refinement.

Help children by teaching them to look at “just one thing” and then try to make it “just a bit better”. By doing this over and over in lots of different situations, you will help children develop a positive attitude to making improvements. Along the way, don’t forget to teach children not to rush things, to always try to do their best and to never stop improving.

7. Understand others

Successful people use what they know to try to be useful to others.

To help children to understand others, we can encourage team effort and help them to improve their listening skills and to develop their questioning techniques. In a team, children have the opportunity to think about others. By listening to others, children will become more informed about opinions and ideas. By improving children’s questioning skills, they are more likely to ask the right sort of questions to help them to understand.

8. Don’t give up

Successful people have setbacks but they always find a way around a problem. Children need to understand that if they have bad luck, they are not alone.

Successful people often bounce back with bigger, better ideas. That is because they know that being wrong is not the end of the world. Teach them that successful people learn from their mistakes and that they can, too.

Criticism can make children feel like giving up. The fine line between feedback and criticism is hard to explain, so try to give them useful feedback by using specific phrases like, “I like the way you have put your shoes away neatly.” This is more useful than general statements.

Chris Quigley is a specialist in primary education. He has been a teacher, head teacher, lead inspector and trainer of school inspectors. He is best known for his inspiring talks and his clear, easy to use support materials.

Secrets of Success Personal Edition by Chris Quigley (Chris Quigley Education, £12.00 + P&P) and Secrets of Success Teacher’s CD Pack (£95.00 + P&P) are available at


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