There is still time
My son Akash used to do well in Maths. He scored A grade in almost all the tests. But recently all he is getting are C grades. He is only in 3rd grade, but still I am worried about his foundations in mathematics. Similarly he is very slow in Hindi subject as well. He is going for Hindi tuition and it is helping him, but it is going at its own pace. I am not complaining about the tuition progress because I know he is progressing. May be not at the school’s expected rate, but at least he is progressing. But when it comes to his exams, memorizing new words and writing two sentence answers are a big challenge for him.
I used to get extremely tensed, worrying sick about his exam results, starting one week before his class tests for preparing, but still finding out that he forgot his answers in the exam. It was very frustrating. All the preparation went down the drain.
Recently I saw a Ted video https://www.ted.com/talks/carol_dweck_the_power_of_believing_that_you_can_improve?language=en. The video said there are some kids who say “I love a good challenge” and “This is interesting. I want to try that” for hard problem solving. I was shocked. I pondered “Really? Did some kids actually say that? How?”
After watching the whole video it helped me realize that I am taking a wrong approach to teaching. It is like putting cart in front of the horses. It is like locking the front door and trying to lock the back door. I think you get the point.
So I started trying out different approaches every day. The idea is to prepare his mind for the possibility that the subjects are easy and just need a little bit more practice. It is not the end of the world if he gets a C or a B in the subjects. There is always time to learn them and not be dejected and overwhelmed by the thoughts that “there is no more chance”.
All of those complex terminologies into three simple words “There is still time”. All right four simple words. So I started saying things to myself out aloud like “Oh I love a good challenge” when he is in the earshot so that he gets accustomed to seeing me take on challenges with an enthusiasm. I might normally do that, but inside my head. I realized it is important that he hears it out aloud.
Then I constantly reminded that “Oh its ok, there is still time” for my activities again so he can hear clearly and get accustomed to that attitude inside the house.
Also I kept on saying out loud when I was solving my problems: “Oh this seems difficult but it is ok, I just have to write it down”. Sometimes say things like “I did not do it yet, but I will try it”.
All these phrases I did not tell him directly because I did not want to sound like I am preaching something that no one else follows. So as first step I told them to myself out aloud when he is there in the room.
Then slowly I started telling them during Akash’s learning time, and other activities time as well. Previously he would scream “no, it is not easy ok?”, but now he says “Ok I will try”. That was a pleasant huge change to me as well.
I would not say he is getting all A+ grades in all the subjects, but he is learning on his own nowadays and practicing more than before. That is a positive step towards the right attitude to learning. Isn’t it?