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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Parents can be a Learning Guide.

Many a time a parent will comment on his child's school work without thought to how he will receive it and react to it. Nowadays, school work is so daunting for a young child, so you can keep him motivated or not just by the things you say.


1. "You should be able to do that because it's easy."
Simple addition may be easy from your point of view, but it's probably not that easy for your five-year old. Your suggestion reduces his interest in learning even further, by making him feel stupid, and he gives up altogether.

2. "You just need to try harder."Don't make the mistake of assuming that your child's lack of interest in learning is due to lack of effort. You have to be very confident before making that assertion. In many instances, a child's slump in interest in his school work arises because he struggles with new concepts despite all his efforts, not because he does not try.

3. "You should be more interested in school work."The chances are that he would like to be more interested. Giving him a stern admonition that he should have a different attitude is unlikely to bring about the change in interest that you seek.

4. "I don't know why you don't like this because I loved it when I was in school."
Your child is a unique individual with his own interest, likes and dislikes. Although you try to stimulate his enthusiasm by pointing out how enthusiastic you were at his age, this could have the opposite effect.

5. "I'm so disappointed that you aren't first in class."In every class, only one child can come out tops. By all means have high educational aspirations for your child, but do not make him feel a failure because he missed first place. If he is raised to believe that anything less than the top of the class is perceived negatively, he may lose interest very early on.


1. "I'm pleased that you tried so hard."
Recognition of your child's effort in trying to complete a difficult class assignment makes him feel valued. Even though he may not have succeeded in getting the right answer, your acknowledgement that he tried hard is enough to make him do more the next time.

2. "I can see this is difficult for you."It is always helpful to show your pre-schooler that you realise school work is not easy at times. Your empathy, rather than criticism or ridicule, makes him feel that you support him. A brief remark like that can ease him over this learning hurdle.

3. "There were times I found things boring in school."It is normal for a child to have fluctuating interest in class activities occasionally. By pointing out that your interest also varied when you were his age, your child begins to believe that this is a temporary phrase which should soon pass.

4. "Let's think about how school can be more interesting for you."Ask your child to think about possible changes to make learning more attractive. Perhaps he would like to change his seating in class, or to attend a new after-school club, or to complete his homework with his friend. Basic changes can be helpful.

5. "I'm so proud of you."
There is no better boost to motivate learning than praise. It does not matter that your child took all week to complete that short page in his reading book, while another child completed the entire book in half the time. Your child's achievement deserves your praise and approval.

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Anonymous Lian's Malaysian Bookshop Blog said...

Thanks for the reminder. We often say things we shouldn't. It takes effort to build the child's enthusiasm for learning.

June 20, 2008 at 9:02 AM  
Blogger Jaanvi said...

Useful tips. Its really a hard job at hand.
I have written a related post on my blog
Discover Parenting: Dealing with a child

Take time out to read.

June 21, 2008 at 3:52 PM  
Blogger About Me said...

It's amazing how just changing the words we choose can make a difference in what a child hears!

June 24, 2008 at 1:39 AM  
Anonymous Michael said...

Wow. Number one of the interest killers I think is one of the most common errors. As a former teacher, I can tell you that many teacher fall into that trap all to often, though sometimes with slight variations on the wording.

July 9, 2008 at 3:16 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

Another one that the wonderful child psychologist Haim Ginott is along the lines of: "Wow long division can be tough. It takes concentration and patience," making infinitely safer to try than "You can do it. It's easy."

I'm loving your numbered lists. Nice and practical, as advertised.

July 9, 2008 at 3:19 PM  
Blogger vicki said...

These are really useful tips. I love how you can see what is easily said but not necessarily the best thing to say and what is better and more constructive. Can we exchange links? I have some posts on parenting as well on my blog. I hope you visit as well.

August 8, 2008 at 6:57 PM  

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