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Showing Your Kids How to Be Lifelong Learners

Knowledge is power.

We oftentimes take learning for granted because we literally have a world of information at our fingertips. Just Google it, right?

Even so, it’s crucial for our children to see how their parents continuously learn. If it’s not a priority to you, how can you expect them to prioritize it?

On this #TakeOverTuesday, Rob Roseman, the host of the Dad The Best I Can Show, interviews serial entrepreneur, keynote speaker, and father of four, Jesse Itzler.


Here’s what we’re unpacking today:

  • Why parents need to continue building their life’s resume
  • How you can show your kids how to learn
  • Why reading needs to be a priority
  • How to discuss failure with your kids

This post is based on a podcast with Jesse Itzler, originally broadcasted on the Dad The Best I Can Show hosted by Rob Roseman. You can listen to the full episode here and below.


Continuing your life’s resume

Why is it so important for parents to continue building their life resume and taking chances?

Jesse: I think the more experience you have, the more you have to offer to your kids. 

As you get older, it’s really hard to create newness. We live in routines. Go to work, put our kids down, get up, little league, whatever. It’s really hard to create new experiences, to learn new things, and even just to experience new things with your family as a dad.

You have to work at it, and you have to invest time to schedule things and plan it. For me, that’s a really big theme in my life.

I spend a lot of time thinking about what I want to do, planning it, scheduling it, making sure I prioritize it. Because when you’re in a routine, life goes really fast. 

You hear it all the time: “Oh, the kids grew up so quickly,” and, “I wish I did more with them.” I don’t want to have those regrets. 

I’m super aware of my relationship with time. I’m super aware of how fast it goes. So, the only way to get in front of it, in my eyes, is to make sure you prioritize it on some level. 

It’s easy to say, “I don’t have enough time,” or, “I don’t have enough this, I can’t do that.” That’s just excuse, excuse, excuse. I use those excuses too. I mean, that is true, but that still doesn’t mean I’m not going to get in front of it, and prioritize it, and make it happen.

I’m spontaneous with my kids and my decisions, too. But I do want to plan out and schedule the big stuff in advance. 

Kids crave one-on-one time if you have a big family. I have four kids, and they crave having alone time with my wife or myself. So you’ve got to give it to them.



Showing your kids how to learn

So you just turned 50, and I saw you’re doing a Learn 50 New Things. What are a couple of cool examples of what you’re learning this year?

Jesse: As my birthday gift to myself, I decided I wanted to make a list of 50 things I always wanted to learn how to do in my life, and learn how to do them. 

So, everything from learning how to play chess, and free dive, and wakeboard, and ballroom dance. I don’t know how to drive a stick shift. I have zero handyman skills, so I’ve really just brought in people that are experts in the field one-by-one.

My kids are learning a lot of it with me. I think the big lesson for my kids is they’re seeing that I still want to learn at this stage of my life, and I think that’s an important thing for them to see.

I don’t know which one of my habits or traits my kids will pick up. But, I try to expose them to as much stuff as I can, and then ultimately hope that helps shape them into what they want to be. 

I mean, my oldest son isn’t super into sports and that’s hard for me. 

I played basketball outside of my driveway every day until my parents had to drag me in to eat. I didn’t even want to eat. I just wanted to be outside playing with the kids in the neighborhood every day. Winter, summer, it didn’t matter. 

My son, that’s not what he’s into, and that’s fine. That’s his own journey. He’s doing his thing. 

But, as a dad, one of the hardest challenges is recognizing that they are on their own journey. Sometimes I think I should be a little bit more pushy for certain things, but there’s a fine line there between pushing, encouraging, and just letting it develop on its own.


Reading is a priority

Why is reading so important in your house?

Jesse: It’s a good quiet time. 

Obviously, there’s a ton of research around how important it is from a learning perspective and for creativity, but it’s also quiet. It’s one-on-one. It’s a different pace. It’s a good ritual. 

All that aside, I think we probably do it for the benefit of just helping them become better readers, opening them up to more things.


Discussing failure

Do you encourage your kids to talk about failure?

Jesse: Yeah, we do. We try to redefine failure as effort versus results.

We still emphasize winning versus losing. But we really emphasize the importance of trying versus not trying at all because you’re scared. 

Like, “I don’t want to go out for the team because I might get cut.” Who cares? You’re definitely going to get cut if you don’t go out for the team.