There is more to a child’s life than academic success
Don’t be critical if, despite every effort, the child fails to be an achiever. Concentrate on his strengths rather than his failings.
Don’t be critical if, despite every effort, the child fails to be an achiever. Concentrate on his strengths rather than his failings. I am receiving a lot of mails from parents whose children are not faring well in school. A constant query is ‘What should we do?’
Before we can hold the child responsible for his failure, it is necessary to understand that academic failure is a symptom of a specific cause. There is a great difference, for example, between the under-achiever who refuses to work, and the slow learner, who is unable to do what is required. We must therefore, diagnose the problem. Most schools today have school psychologists who will administer a battery of diagnostic information tests when needed. Concerned parents can initiate this by requesting the Principal or the Headmistress that an assessment be made. If the school does not offer this service, then assistance should be sought from a private source. Once the nature of the difficulty is known, steps can be taken to resolve it.
Tutorial assistance can pull a child through a rough spot academically, particularly in the 3R’s- reading ,writing and arithmetic. Some children have trouble grasping the concepts while sitting in class. There are too many distractions and too few reasons to concentrate. However, when a tutor works with a child on a one-to-one basis, learning is much more likely. The school is the best resource in finding a patient and a skilled tutor.
Also be certain that the child has learned to read by the time he is five years old. Educators have developed many creative approaches to remedial reading like more simplified alphabet, multi-sensory instruction and other techniques.
Every child without expectation can learn to read if taught properly. Unfortunately, in our schools, only group teaching approach is used with its high failure rate. Here again a ‘one-toone’ approach is recommended. It is absolutely critical to your child’s self confidence to learn to read early in the school career, and if a professional educator cannot do the job, then the mothers must learn the skills.
If you have a confirmed, hardcore ‘under-achiever’- a child who has the ability but refuses to use it – you have been blessed with the most frustrating academic problem. I’m sure you already know that all the screaming, yelling, punishing, crying and depriving, produces little more than a yawn! I have tried many approaches to motivate these happy-golucky kids and found most of them to be unsuccessful. The one and only alternative that has worked involves a carefullyconceived plan of immediate rewards. Here, I do not mean that we should bribe a child for working. However, positive reinforcement has proven to be far more motivational than threats of deprivation. Parents need to understand the principles of rewards and reinforcement leading to self-discipline and performance.
There is always a fear in our minds about the self esteem of the slow learners who face failure daily in the classrooms. Even before they enter Class I, it can be predicted that most of these children will soon develop feelings of inadequacy and an inferiority complex.
I offer a strong recommendation to the parents of a slow-learner – de-emphasize academic achievements in your home. This may seem like a heresy in an education-oriented society. However, self-esteem and selfconfidence crumble when the necessary attributes are beyond reach.
The importance of anything your child cannot accomplish, despite his best efforts, should be toned down. You cannot demand that a crippled child become a track star, yet every parent wants his average child to be a topper.
Try to remove the pressure from the back of your child. Concentrate on his strengths and say as little as possible about his unimpressive report card. Some things in life are more important than success in school.
Dr Shayama Chona, an academic, was born in Shimla on August 12, 1942. She is the former Principal of Delhi Public School, R K Puram, New Delhi; Founder President of Tamana (NGO for physically & mentally handicapped children); Founder of Anubhav Shiksha Kendra (a school for the under-privileged); she has been a member of 96 Advisory Boards and Committees; she has been nominated to Managing Committees of 46 schools and other educational institutions; she has been named in the Limca Book of Records 2007. She has been awarded the State Award for Services in Education 1993, National Award for Services as a Teacher of Outstanding Merit 1994, National Award for Outstanding Performance for Welfare of People with Disabilities 1997, Padma Shri 1999, Padma Bhushan 2008, and 49 other awards. She lives at C10/8, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi-110057. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com