Operation Back-to-School has been a complete success – your child has settled back happily into the term-time routine, they’ve yet to outgrow their new school shoes and all items of P.E. kit so far remain accounted for. All in all, it should be smooth sailing from here to the Christmas break.
Your cheerful thoughts are interrupted by a wail from your child, who has been mulling over their homework at the kitchen table. ‘It’s too hard!’ they huff through frustrated tears and gritted teeth. ‘I can’t do this!’
The school holidays suddenly feel very distant as you wonder how your child will cope with all the tricky homework they will face between now and then. How can you empower them to meet the academic challenges ahead?
Use ‘Yet’ to Move into a Growth Mindset
When your child believes they can’t do something, they are looking at their situation with a fixed mindset. They feel that their intelligence and ability simply aren’t up to the task with which they are struggling. This perspective creates feelings of inadequacy, frustration and even fear. Giving up allows your child to escape from these negative emotions but enforces the sense that there are limits to their learning.
By contrast, if your child were to approach the task with a growth mindset, they would recognise that their ability and knowledge are constantly expanding. They would remember that there are many things that they can do now that they weren’t able to when they first encountered them. They would understand that whilst tackling a new challenge may not be easy, with perseverance and effort it is achievable.
How can you help your child move from a fixed to a growth mindset? It’s surprisingly easy to bridge the gap between these two radically different perspectives. When your child uses the phrase ‘I can’t do this’, just add ‘yet’. Maybe they can’t do their maths homework yet, but they will be able to – even if it requires a large effort.
Identify the Bump in the Road
Once your child feels in control of the scenario, it’s time to figure out what’s causing the problem. Read the task through with your child and ask them to explain to you what it is they need to do. If they have not understood, guide them through the question. For those that find lengthy written explanations confusing, highlighting or bullet pointing the key information is useful.
Next support them in working through the steps required to complete the task. Look out for areas that are a sticking point. It may be that they don’t know what to do to answer the question, or that they don’t feel able to do what they know is required. Keep in mind that the problem may not be with a topic that your child has covered this school year; they can’t build on shaky foundations, so make sure you go back to basics. For example, your child may understand what they need to do to solve a word problem but lack the arithmetic skills required to reach the answer.
Overcome the Obstacle
When you have found the area or areas causing your child problems, address them directly. Seek a variety of input; ask their teacher to explain, a sibling for support and use educational videos on YouTube. Offering more ways of understanding gives your child the opportunity to learn in a way that suits them. Check back with your child and see what has clicked with them as guidance on how to approach any future difficulties.
Need a little expert help?
At Flying Start Tuition, we’ve been helping our students to overcome their learning obstacles for over fourteen years. We offer one-to-one and small group tuition in maths, English and exam preparation, for students aged seven to eighteen. To find out more about our award-winning, holistic approach to tuition, please visit our website or get in touch.
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