GOOD PARENTING

It’s that time of the year when par­ents find out how their chil­dren fared aca­dem­i­cally. Here is how you can sup­port them if they didn’t do well.

Bona - - Contents - By Fundiswa Nk­wanyana

How to sup­port your kid should they fail a grade

Whether your child is in pri­mary school or var­sity, they are usu­ally over­whelmed with sad­ness and frus­tra­tion when they fail. There­fore, it is im­por­tant for you to know how to turn fail­ure into a holis­tic learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for them.

GRADE 1 – 3

The man­ner in which you re­act to your lit­tle one’s fail­ure de­ter­mines whether it will have an ed­u­ca­tional or detri­men­tal ef­fect on them. “Par­ents have a pow­er­ful in­flu­ence through­out child­hood. They have to send mes­sages about what fail­ure is and how to re­spond to it,” says Kyla Haimovitz, professor of psy­chol­ogy at Stan­ford Univer­sity. When Thabiso Mwe­lase dis­cov­ered that her daugh­ter failed grade 1, she was dev­as­tated. “I was heart­bro­ken and an­gry be­cause I felt that the teach­ers were not do­ing their job prop­erly. I threw a tantrum at the school in front of my child, and even changed schools,” she says. Theresa Pot­gi­eter, a re­tired pri­mary school coun­sel­lor, be­lieves that Thabiso’s be­hav­iour was harm­ful to her child’s de­vel­op­ment be­cause she didn’t in­ves­ti­gate the rea­sons why her daugh­ter had failed. “She should have held a meet­ing with the teacher, con­sulted with an ed­u­ca­tion or child ther­a­pist and com­forted and sup­ported her child through the dif­fi­cult time,” says Theresa. She adds that some of the com­mon rea­sons why chil­dren fail grades 1 – 3 are the in­abil­ity to com­plete tasks, fear of fail­ure, low self-es­teem and a lack of con­cen­tra­tion. She also points out that ev­ery child is dif­fer­ent, and each case should be in­ves­ti­gated fur­ther by a trained pro­fes­sional, such as a child or ed­u­ca­tional psy­chol­o­gist. “I al­ways ad­vise par­ents to make their child com­plete school readi­ness tests and as­sess­ments be­fore start­ing grade 1. This helps to recog­nise their strengths and chal­lenges, and if a prob­lem is picked up, there can be an early in­ter­ven­tion,” Theresa adds. Some of the tests and as­sess­ments done are an in­tel­lec­tual as­sess­ment to es­tab­lish the child’s think­ing abil­ity or in­tel­li­gence,

the vis­ual and au­di­tory per­cep­tual skills test that de­ter­mines whether the child can ac­cu­rately per­ceive the vis­ual and au­di­tory stim­uli that reach their brains through their eyes and ears and the con­cept de­vel­op­ment test which checks whether the child has mas­tered con­cepts such as colours, shapes and count­ing. It is not only the teach­ers who are re­spon­si­ble for the ed­u­ca­tion ad­vance­ment of your child. You also need to play an ac­tive role and con­tin­u­ously sup­port with school­work.

GRADE 4 – 7

At this phase, con­cepts be­come harder, the work­load in­creases and there is more pres­sure on learn­ers to get good grades, so that they can get into rep­utable high schools. This re­sults in learn­ers strug­gling to cope with re­search-based as­sign­ments, ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties and study­ing for tests. When Mandla Mchunu no­ticed that his child’s aca­demic per­for­mance was de­clin­ing in grade 5, he met with the teacher who told him that his son was bat­tling to cope with school­work and sport ac­tiv­i­ties. Mandla in­ter­vened and helped his child man­age his time, which re­sulted in the im­prove­ment of his aca­demic per­for­mance. “We drew up a study timetable to­gether and I helped him stick to it,” he says. Ed­u­ca­tional psy­chol­o­gist,

Pri­anka Mood­ley, be­lieves that early in­ter­ven­tions such as Mandla’s can help pre­vent a child from fail­ing.

GRADE 8 – 9

Theresa be­lieves that some of the rea­sons why stu­dents fail at this stage are peer pres­sure, lazi­ness, fam­ily or re­la­tion­ship prob­lems, sub­stance abuse and low self-es­teem. “At this age, many chil­dren go through phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal changes that of­ten af­fect their stud­ies,” she says. When John Zulu’s daugh­ter turned 15, she gained weight and had acne. This re­sulted in her fail­ing grade 9 be­cause she de­vel­oped a low self-es­teem and was teased. “I first had a heart-to-heart con­ver­sa­tion with her and told her that I also strug­gled with acne. I then worked on build­ing her con­fi­dence be­fore I fo­cused on her stud­ies,” says John. “Most teenagers strug­gle to adapt to their de­vel­op­men­tal changes, and it of­ten af­fects how they see them­selves,” Theresa cau­tions. You need to deal with emo­tional prob­lems first be­fore fo­cus­ing on school­work. Ex­perts that help teenagers deal with emo­tional is­sues are school guid­ance coun­sel­lors, child psy­chol­o­gists and so­cial work­ers. “I find that chil­dren of­ten do well in school when par­ents are in­volved,” she adds. Have a close re­la­tion­ship with your teenage child, so that they can con­fide in you when fac­ing chal­lenges.

GRADE 10 – 12

“At this stage, most learn­ers are un­der pres­sure from their par­ents to get good marks that will help them get ac­cepted to pres­ti­gious higher ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions. This of­ten re­sults in them fail­ing,” Theresa says. Ac­cord­ing to ed­u­ca­tion re­searcher

Nic Spaull, an­other con­tribut­ing fac­tor is poor learn­ing in the foun­da­tion phase. Zama Mchunu re­mem­bers fail­ing grade 11 be­cause her par­ents wanted her to get straight As that would in­crease her chances of get­ting a bur­sary to study fur­ther. “They ex­pected me to pass, but I didn’t have all the learn­ing ma­te­rial. I also had a lot of chores, and wasn’t al­lowed to join af­ter-school study groups,” she re­calls. “Chil­dren need all the help that they can get around this time. Some par­ents hire a tu­tor or en­rol them in af­ter­noon or school hol­i­day study­ing classes to keep up with the work­load,” Theresa says. You can also help by less­en­ing house­hold chores and giv­ing your child love and sup­port. Re­mem­ber that when a child fails a grade, it’s not their fault alone. Scold­ing them will not help them to pass in the fu­ture. “Most par­ents are quick to pun­ish the child and crit­i­cise the teach­ers be­fore in­ves­ti­gat­ing,” Pri­anka says. She also be­lieves that when par­ents and teach­ers work to­gether, the chances of a child fail­ing are very slim. It’s im­por­tant to turn fail­ure into a les­son on per­se­ver­ance, hard work and learn­ing from mis­takes.

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