2 Simple Ways To Guide Kids Through Learning Frustrations

27 04 2010

Imagine your boss one day telling you that you have to write out all your documents – using only your LEFT hand (or your RIGHT hand if you’re left-handed).Imagine your boss constantly looking over your shoulder and criticising you for your shaky writing. Not allowing you to explain why it’s difficult for you.

Most of us would probably feel very frustrated. Some of us would probably want to smack our boss. Maybe a few of us would really do it!

Sometimes during seminars, Kumon Instructors are asked to write a sentence with our other hand. This is just to give us an experience of how frustrating it feels to be doing something unfamiliar. It helps us gain some perspective on how children feel when they are trying to do/learn something new.

Just as we feel frustrated attempting unfamiliar tasks, children feel the same way too. And some of them probably want to smack us for making them do it. And perhaps, a few will really hit out! I’m sure if you have children or deal with kids regularly, you would have experienced these reactions sometimes.

As adults, it is our responsibility to guide them in a way that encourages them to keep trying until they succeed.

Here are 2 very simple ways to keep kids motivated. And they don’t cost a thing!


The most effective (but perhaps most under-used) method. But children will recognise empty praise and lose their trust in your words! So look for specific things you can honestly praise them for, no matter how small.

For example, you could praise them for drawing slightly straighter lines today than yesterday. Or for talking less when doing their work. Or being able to concentrate on their work for 1 minute longer than the day before.

By praising kids, even for the smallest improvements, they will understand that you appreciate them so much that you notice even for the smallest things. This does wonders for their self-esteem and that in turn does wonders for their performance!


Many parents are concerned that if they give their children a reward for doing something, it is equivalent to offering a bribe. There is a difference.

A bribe is when nothing gets done until a something is given. A reward is something given to recognise for good performance.

Think about it…would anyone want to participate in sports competitions if there were no medals? Would anyone want to work harder if there was no bonus at the end of the year? Children love to be rewarded for their hard work as much as we adults do!

Rewards don’t have to be extravagant. It could be taking your kids swimming or on a picnic, or buying them a favourite ice cream. At Kumon, we give stickers to students who get all correct in their classwork. The stickers cost next to nothing a piece but the shine in kids eyes when they receive it is priceless!


How to fix our education system, Part 1

5 12 2008

by Azly Rahman


Here is my early thought on Malaysian education, after having many conversations with fellow Malaysians over the last few years.

Of late we hear the concern for the teaching of Maths and Science, closing down of vernacular schools, and on the quality of education. The issue is access to success. The vision is to collaborate and not to compete, and to bring in cultural perspectives into teaching so that each child may learn, learn well, learn meaningfully, and be able to live a good life as good, ethical, thinking and world-wise citizens.

It is in the realm of thought, language, education system, teaching strategies, nature of human intelligence, and how these relate to the economic condition that is central to our approach to designing an equitable and just principle and practice of education. We need to teach the nation how to celebrate the beauty of all languages and draw out their peaceful and ethical dimensions and not to politicize them at the expense of the advancement of human intelligence. Read the rest of this entry »


27 10 2008

Wishing everyone a blessed celebration!

God Bless…

Chee Seng

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