teaching children perseverance

Teaching perseverance in the classroom is critical to student success, both in academics and socially. Perseverance is the ability to continue on with something even though it is difficult. It requires time and dedication for a person to persevere. This skill is required for many tasks in life and also a necessary part in understanding and managing our emotions in a positive way.

Teaching Perseverance

Perseverance is a life skill that is counter-cultural to the “microwave culture” we are living in. We want things done fast, and then we want them done faster the next time! Our students are seeing this all around them in the form of drive-throughs, microwaves, and quick charging cables for devices, to name just a few.

So, how do we teach this valuable skill to the students in our classroom?

teacher helping

Explain it

A great place to start is to define perseverance with your students.

Then, flip to a fresh page on your easel pad or open up a new page on your favorite online learning platform and start brainstorming!

Create a list together as a class or in small groups of different tasks that require perseverance.

Examples include:

  • saving money for something new you want
  • completing a multi-step task like building a large Lego set
  • learning a new sport

Use the tasks listed to discuss the perseverance needed for these types of tasks is the same type of skill needed to process different emotions and work through them. (Tying in emotional awareness and management into classroom learning is my jam!)

strong teacher

Model Perseverance

Throughout your day, intentionally highlight tasks that take a few steps to complete and identify any negative thoughts you might be experiencing out loud.

Let your students see you as a real person who needs to dig deep, tap into real grit, and persevere when things are boring or hard.

group learning

Use Team Building Games

Teaching perseverance in the classroom can be fun!

Hands-on team-building experiences can be a great way to help students learn the value in persevering and resilience needed when things feel too hard. The goal with these types of activities is for students to find joy in the act of working hard and improving a skill together

The key in selecting games that promote perseverance is to choose activities that your students actually will NOT be able to complete on the first try. Also, choose ones that are challenging and fun for the specific age of your students.

For example, preschool teachers may want to teach foundational skills of patience with team-building games while middle and teachers of older students will likely want to target skills such as strategizing and thinking creatively in regards to learning how to persevere.

While playing team-building games, encourage your students to cheer each other on and celebrate successes as they happen. It’s great to celebrate learning perseverance for yourself, but we want to teach students to celebrate others learning this skill as well! 

Some team building game ideas are: 

  • Ball on a spoon (a no-mess twist on the common “egg on spoon relay”)
  • Making butter from cream 
  • Cup stacking
  • Corn hole
  • Ice Cream in a bag
  • Minute to Win It games
  • Classroom debate

Perseverance stations are a fun way to target several different games at once for the large classroom setting, or keep it simple and do just one as an entire class!


Classroom Resources & Activities

Read alouds, writing prompts, self-reflection guides, cause and effect activities are wonderful ways to ensure that your students are understanding and able to apply the topic of perseverance both in the classroom and in the real world. 

Check out these done-for-you products to make teaching a breeze!

In this character education resource about perseverance, you will find a variety of activities, classroom decor, and forms all in both print and digital options to make teaching perseverance in your classroom a true pleasure and breeze! 

It includes 90 pages of activities, forms, rewards tags, bookmarks, surveys and decor options to use with your 1st through 5th graders!

This Lemons into Lemonade activity is another great option to use with your students! It includes 16 pages for grades 2-5 about changing negative thoughts and actions to positive ones. You only need 30 minutes to complete this activity with your students!

Grab this Positive Thinking Lesson FREEBIE too! It's a two page sample of the above resource.


Books and Videos that Encourage Perseverance

Read alouds and videos are always a great option for teaching new skills in the classroom! Check out this blog post about Children’s books that teach Perseverance for a comprehensive book list.

Check out these favorites in the meantime:

*As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I get a small commission that costs you nothing and helps me continue to provide this content.

I cant do that yet

I Can’t Do That, YET: Growth Mindset by Esther Pia Cordova

Enna and her father sit down to read a book, her father asks her to read the first page and she says she can’t do it. Enna then has a dream and she is visited by her future self. Her future self is a computer programmer and Enna can hardly believe it because she can’t do any programming now, but her future self tells her “You can’t do that YET.” She then meets other potential future selves, and realizes that all she needs to be able to read that book is a little time to get it right.

books about perseverance

The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do by Ashley Spires

Lou and her friends are brave, and they love adventures! They love to play and imagine things like running faster than airplanes can fly, building strong fortresses, rescuing wild animals, and more. One day, Lou’s friend suggests making a tree become their ship to play pirates in. Lou begins to feel worried. She has never climbed a tree before, and she is not sure that she will be able to do it. She suggests they play a game that is not up a tree, then gives excuses why she can’t climb, and finally says that she does not even want to climb the tree. Of course, this isn’t true because she is a brave adventurer. What will she do?

after the fall

After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again) by Dan Santat

Have you ever wondered what happened to Humpty Dumpty after his fall? Dan Santat’s heartwarming book picks up where the timeless classic left off. After his famous fall, Humpty Dumpty is afraid of heights, which prevents him from doing some of his favorite things. One day, he has a brilliant idea: to create an airplane so he can enjoy being in the sky again. When his hard work doesn’t go as planned, he decides to face his fears and climb the wall again. 

Class Dojo Perseverance for Students

Katie learns about the dip (challenges that make our mind stronger).

Clips from Finding Nemo

Just keep swimming! So many great examples of perseverance in this movie.

You can be confident as you use these tips & strategies for teaching perseverance in the classroom this year! Don’t forget to check out the resources in my TPT store and other character education blog posts for more inspiration.

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