As my big girl starts Year 3 this year, I can’t help but feel… old. My own insecurities aside, this school year marks a bigger challenge for my daughter. Undeniably, school work is getting tougher and Ally pointed out that now that she is in Year 3, a lot more is expected of her in school.
My girl is a wonderful, caring, nice girl but she does at times struggle with school. Her teachers have all praised her good manners yet I have also been told many times that she struggles with losing her things, forgetting homework, being careless in her work. At times, despite her well intentioned efforts, she could end up with many mistakes and not do as well as she would like to. Let’s just say when she asked me why she doesn’t seem to do very well even when she tries her best, I didn’t really know how to answer and my heart broke a little upon realising her disappointment in herself.
I worry about her being discouraged and I do think of ways to motivate my child in her learning journey. Besides the common motivational methods such as reward charts, there is something else that I have believed from experience that could benefit children – a little taste of success to get them going.
My first real job was actually a Year 4 primary school teacher. I vividly remember this young boy who suffered from dyslexia. This boy specifically stood out to me not only because I knew he struggled with school but also because of his demeanour. He always slouched, I never really saw him smile – to put it plainly, he always looked miserable and walked around looking defeated. Perhaps from the stress he put on himself or stress from his parents, I was did not know.
Every week during spelling, I could see his attempts yet sadly, they always fell short of the required standards. He would end up with probably 2 out of 20 words correct.
I decided to do a little experiment one day – I told him that I would give him a special discount. That only for him, and just for him alone, he would only have to do 2 words for spelling that week while everyone else had to do the usual 20. I also asked if he could please try his very best to get those 2 words correct since I was giving him such a special discount. He seemed really pleased with the arrangement.
I remember when spelling day came round again, I saw a different boy. In place of the disinterested, defeated boy with his head on his desk, was a boy chatting happily to a couple of his friends telling them he knew how to spell the 2 words assigned to him and asking them to test him.
As I hoped, he got the 2 words correct. Which was a 100%. He got a nice sticker, a star stamp on his page. His first ever. For once, there wasn’t so many red crosses on the page to mar his hopefulness. I remember his smile and I told him well done and next week, he would still enjoy a discounted spelling list but this time – 3 words. “And please can you try your very best to get all 3 correct?”
A few weeks after, I ended my teaching stint as I embarked on a new journey – marriage and moving to a different place to start a new life. As I didn’t get to work with him for long after that, I can’t say about the long term effects, I wouldn’t exaggerate to say it changed my little student’s life but I would say that it was a beautiful experience for me to see such a little encouraging push make a difference in a child’s life, if just for an episode. I believe it motivated him to learn and helped him want to do well.
Sometimes, I believe a good motivation could simply be a little taste of success that they might have never ever experienced before. And hopefully, that little taste of success could go on to help them believe more in their own capabilities and in time, help them to do well in what they set their minds on.
I will definitely be trying this little technique with my own daughter.
How do you lovely mummys motivate your kids? I would love to know!
Linking up with Essentially Jess for I Blog On Tuesdays!
This post was brought to you by the Australian Scholarships Group. ASG has very kindly sent me a voucher to share my story in this post.