What do you do when your student responds, “but I make a lot of silly mistakes"? Maybe just a scaffold so she figures out it's just her lost confidence. Read on as I share it in my first blog.
“Anshita is very good in all subjects including Maths but she makes very silly mistakes and loses her marks “, said Anshita’s mom, Mrs Prachi Joshi. Mrs Joshi had come to me with a request to help Anshita improve in Maths.
A week later, our journey towards betterment started. On the first day, I gave her 30 simple addition and subtraction questions in order to analyse her. While I was observing her skills to solve those problems, I observed that she fumbled a lot and had a scared look on her face. To help her I said , “Wow! You are doing awesome Anshita and your mom and I will make you super-awesome.”
“I know ma’am, but I make a lot of silly mistakes”, she told me very carelessly. This statement hit me to the core. While checking, I found 8 silly mistakes.
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It has been six months that Ansita has been coming to me and now we are practising maths online too. Honestly, I do not need to teach her because she knows everything. It’s been six months that I have been working on her confidence level. I have to keep telling her in different ways that it is okay to make a few mistakes but it is not okay to doubt yourself. Recently, I find her very cheerful while doing Maths. She does sets of 225 sums in 15 min with hardly 2 - 3 mistakes. Only after she got rid of her fear, she started enjoying her work and started doing much better.
I have dealt with many such cases in the past and for me as an educator, counselling becomes as important as teaching.
I felt the need to write this now because, in this lockdown, the kids are with us parents 24x7. They do not get opportunities to go and meet their teachers or friends and vent out their feelings. So parents, we have to be very careful with our words. Mrs Joshi, a well educated and an understanding mom only wanted the best for her child. But her casual and repeated mentions of “silly mistakes” had made its house in Anshita’s mind. I knew I had to work towards removing the mental block to make her better at maths.
PARENTING IS CHALLENGING!! No matter how much ever we try, mistakes happen but we have to keep trying nonetheless.
Here, I would like to share few of my ways that I found most helpful to build confidence in my primary and secondary graders:
1. Instead of using words like “lost marks by silly mistakes“, I would always say,”Wow! You understood the concepts so well and with everyday practice, there are always chances to improve.”
2. If the child is already upset with the marks, I would hug him/ her and say,”It is OK to get low marks sometimes. Let us work harder and do better next time.”
3. Yes, like all the moms, I am also curious about other kids’ marks so as to know where my child/ student stands in the class. But, I would always ask that only after motivating my child to work harder and if his/ her close friends scored better, I would always congratulate my child on having good friends.
At the end of the day, what matters most is that the child has no mental blocks about his/ her capacities and that he/she sleeps tight at night and is ready to work harder the next day.
So parents, let us all work more on the confidence level of our kids because HIGH achievers may not be able to face the real life challenges but CONFIDENT achievers, though average will always find their way out, come what may.
All the best parents!
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