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!

1.   PRAISE

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!

2.   REWARD

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!

Advertisements




Our Student Makes History!

21 04 2010

Ashley receiving her Kumon Bandar Sunway Completer Tribute Video*

Ashley Lim Xian En, nine years old, is Malaysia’s youngest English completer to date. She passed the English Completer’s test in October 2009, while she was only 8years and 10 months old.

Kumon HQ staff recently interviewed her and mummy, and here are their thoughts.

————————-

What kind of stories do you usually read?

I like to read fairy tales, mysteries and adventures like Harry Potter.

In your journey to completion, which section of the English worksheets seemed to be the most challenging?

I think it is the sections with critical writing and the Shakespeare plays.

What happened if you didn’t understand them?

Mommy will patiently explain the passages to me and sometimes my instructor will give me a very big book to check words I don’t understand. It’s the dictionary.

You set your own study plan at the higher levels and you did not plan any repetitions. Why did you feel there was no need for repetitions?

Because I read the passages again and again, like 100 times, and when I don’t understand it, my Instructor or mommy will explain it to me. So if I already know the answers, why should I repeat?

Why did you want so much to complete the programme?

I wanted to complete it since the first time my instructor told me about the completion test. I want to complete it even more after joining the High Achievers Camp (HAC) in 2008. I have seen a lot of completers at the event and I wanted to be like them.

After completing the programme, what do you think is the major change in you or what have you learned throughout the journey?

I think I have learned a lot of Old English and I can now understand it better. Completing the programme has also exposed me to more books for reading. I think the major change in me is relishing poetry; previously I would fall asleep upon seeing poems. I begin to like it now.

———————

Kumon HQ staff also spent some time to interview Ashely’s mum, Florence. Below is an extract of the interview. She shares how we can play a more meaningful role in supporting our children’s journeys in Kumon.

.

Would you like to share how you guided Ashley through the difficult higher levels of Kumon worksheets?

I actually studied the contents before she did the work so that when she has problems attempting it, I could explain it to her. For example, when there are literature pieces which I was unfamiliar with, I would look into it and learn it myself. Sometimes, I would also ask the instructor for tips on how to guide Ashley.

Young children usually encounter challenges in deciphering the meaning of words used in literature especially in poems or plays. How did you explain ‘challenging’ terms to her?

Erm, I would actually link it to the facts of life or link it to our daily life. Like for the term ‘adultery’, I used mommy and daddy as an example, and then explained it to her. I mean the scenes in literature are the real life situations that she may encounter in future so why not prepare her and let her understand it now?

Five years have passed since she first enrolled in Kumon and Ashley has successfully become Malaysia’s youngest English completer. How do you feel about this?

Phew. At last. (smiles happily). It is a good headstart and this will let her have the chance to experience the feeling of being able to achieve and complete something she has started.

There were also times when Ashley felt like quitting. What do you think kept her going and how did you help her stay motivated?

Well, first of all, I think it is Ashley’s own desire and determination to achieve something that she wanted. As for me playing the parent’s role, I would have a good talk with her and allow her to let out all her difficulties, get the anger out and start again. Basically it is a norm in life where we would fall and as a parent, I have to help her get up again. So it’s a process of falling and picking up again.

————————-

Instructor’s note: I will be publishing the interview that Kumon HQ staff conducted with me in a later post.

* Every Kumon Bandar Sunway Completer gets a personalised tribute video made by me. We’ve had 2 Kumon Completers so far, and we are looking forward to see another 2 students becoming Completers in 2010!





Kumon ASHR Ceremony 2008

2 11 2008

This morning was one of the most important events of the year for Kumon. More than 600 Kumon high achievers (this number does not include their families, Kumon Instructors and Kumon staff!) converged at Berjaya Times Square for the Central Region Advanced Student’s Honour Roll ceremony. This ceremony recognises the Gold and Silver achievers (at least 3 years or 2 years ahead of school level, respectively).

More than a thousand people were in the hall! Many cancelled at the last minute or else there would have been many more people!

The ASHR ceremony has grown larger year by year. Last year, because it was not feasible anymore to accommodate all the Kumon Achievers in one ceremony, the ceremony was split into 4 parts – the Northern Region ceremony, Southern Region ceremony and Central Region ceremonies (morning and afternoon session). We can see that the number of high achievers are growing more and more.

Read the rest of this entry »





The Secret to Your Child’s Academic Success

28 09 2008

Regardless of intelligence, students who are actively involved do better in school than those who are uninterested.

.

by Marc Fey

.

Research tells us that the key to academic achievement is “engagement”. This means that regardless of intelligence, economic status or other social factors, students who are involved, active participants do better in school than students who are uninterested. Oh yeah, and their parents are engaged too!

.

So how do you ensure that your children are engaged? Read the rest of this entry »








%d bloggers like this: