As a child, Joshua Waitzkin was recognized as a chess prodigy and became the subject of the film Searching for Bobby Fischer. Then, after overcoming a series of obstacles—chief among them the fame that the movie brought—Joshua found another passion and became a champion in the martial art tai chi. Dr. Oz talks with Joshua, author of The Art of Learning: A Journey in the Pursuit of Excellence, about how parents and educators can help support a child's education so that he can achieve his own level of success.
Listen to your students. There are various modes of processing information by which children learn, Joshua says. Parents and teachers should take note of the way an individual child's mind works to determine, for example, whether she is an auditory thinker who communicates based on hearing or a visual thinker who communicates best with images. "Tapping into that reality can really help us learn how to both bring out the natural shine of the child and learn how to speak to the child in a way that they'll really understand," he says.
Give feedback that is process-oriented. Joshua says teachers should focus on the process of learning rather than the outcome, and their encouragement should reflect this. For example, a teacher or parent might say, "I'm so proud of the work you did on this project," rather than, "You're brilliant at math." When a child faces life's inevitable failures, he can focus on process-oriented solutions instead of assuming he's unintelligent, Joshua says.
Teach children to follow their dreams. If a child pursues her passion, she'll be more likely to enjoy the journey, Joshua says. Goals such as wealth, fame or prestige merely focus on an end result that can lead to disappointment, he says. "You're separating yourself from enjoying the little moments—from being present to the little ripples of the learning process which, I think, is where things get really, really beautiful," Joshua says.