If we liken life to a race, then the entire academic journey our kids go through is an epic marathon. From the time they enter Primary 1 to the process of streaming and the great PSLE hurdle, we coach our children through their studies, hoping that they would succeed academically, and get a decent job in the future.
While there are many acclaimed methods of studying and brain fitness classes that can boost our kids’ capacity for knowledge, one of the most essential factors to help them go the distance is the presence of a positive home environment.
My eldest daughter is in Primary 3 and has been struggling to keep up with an endless stream of Math homework since the start of the year. Instead of feeling frustrated at her when she gets stuck at a Math concept, I focus on teaching her to stay calm or take a break. I also try to make the mood light-hearted, and encourage her to look at things from a different perspective. (Sometimes it gets clearer when we try this.)
It can be difficult to keep our cool and remember that our kids need us to affirm and support them, even when they are not doing well. How do we play such a challenging role?
Focus on the joy of learning
It is easy for our kids to aimlessly drudge through the school years and believe that acing the examinations is their main purpose in life.
Alternatively, we can help them see the value of education and understand that school is a place where we learn the skills to grow and develop throughout life. Let them know learning is important and can be enjoyable by encouraging their efforts, not just their results.
Focus on everyday achievements
It is easy to find fault and criticise our kids, especially since they are works-in-progress. However, it is crucial for us to focus on the positive.
Don't wait until a special occasion or till your kid gets all A’s to encourage the right actions. For instance, if your child remembered to do his homework without you reminding him this week, you can say, "You've been really responsible about your schoolwork this week" or "I'm so happy about the effort you've put into your homework." Notice what he's doing well or trying hard at, and praise that.
Focus on encouraging when the rubber meets the road
Some days, it can be tough for our kids to pick themselves up when they have failed, especially if the failure is repeated. This is when you can be your child’s best encourager.
Make the effort to empathise and understand their feelings by saying things like, “I’m sorry. You must be feeling so disappointed that you failed your Chinese test again.” Then, encourage them to try again and provide support. You can say, “Don’t give up, give it another go. Let’s try and think of ways to help you improve the next time."
You can’t do the work of developing perseverance for your child, but you can be his greatest cheerleader, especially when the going gets tough.
When children grow up in a home with loving parents and an atmosphere of encouragement, it keeps their love tank filled and equips them for lifelong learning and success.
Adapted from Choosing Your Child’s Education: A Personalised Plan for Every Age and Stage, a Focus on the Family resource. © 2018 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.
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