Do your children dread the start of the New Year at School? Do you have a child who freaks out when it comes time to do maths or English? Like totally loses the plot?
Are you one of those parents who are left scratching their head as to what is going on?
You have a smart kid and there is no reason why they are not doing well.
Figures from over the past couple of years show Australia’s literacy and numeracy is slipping with a recent report revealing we’ve dropped from 4th to 16th in literacy, 7th to 25th in math and 4th to 14th in science.
According to a leading Australian tutor, the problem is not with the topic but with an underlying emotional attachment to the topic.
Zoe Buckley, a former teacher, said behind every learning difficulty, there is a negative emotional experience.
“It could be someone has told the child they are stupid or hurried them up or they’ve missed one crucial aspect and can’t keep up,” she said.
“To ensure they can move on, you have to get to the root of the problem. The thing is that teachers do not have time to do this. They are under so much pressure to get through the curriculum that kids get left behind and it sets up a horrible cycle for all.”
While it is easy to blame the system, Zoe believes there is so much more to these stats than just the education system’s failings.
“More than ever kids are distracted by devices, games and screens, and the overwhelming messages plugged at them daily that they need to be perfect,” she said.
“Because of the pressure kids are under pressure to perform, so there is an added element of emotional fragility. So, when they do not achieve, it creates problems with learning because the kid then attaches negative feelings to the experience of Maths or English and shuts down.
“It is not about who is to blame, it is about what can we do about it to set our kids up for success?”
This means asking more questions – as parents and as teachers. It is not good enough to say we are too busy, because we end up with a generation of young people who cannot do the basics.
“As parents, we also have to be detectives; to not take ‘fine’ or ‘I’m ok’ as an answer. If your child is struggling with a subject at school, it takes a little bit of digging to get to the real reason why,” Zoe said.
“I worked with a 11-year-old who when it was time to do English – in the classroom or homework – she would have a very loud emotional outburst. It disrupted the rest of the class. She was labelled a ‘naughty girl’ and disciplined appropriately.
“Her stressed out dad brought her to me to get her back on track. However, before we could even start with the actual English work, I had to find out WHY she was getting so upset. Dad didn’t know what to do and neither did the teacher.”
It turned out, earlier that year, the teacher had told her she should have known, at her age, how to spell a certain word. This happened in front of the entire class. From that moment, she had decided she was too dumb to do the work and gave up.
“I had to work with this girl to get past that emotional attachment. That she was not dumb, or stupid,” Zoe said.
“I had to break down the issue to release that emotion. That took a few sessions to get the student to feel comfortable with her new ‘story’.”
If your child is struggling at school, before going to town over their less than stellar report card, ask a few questions.
Because sometimes the problem is not the problem!
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