There was an interesting blog on my Facebook feed recently about how to boost confidence in a child. It was interesting because it successfully highlighted several of the unintentional ways in which a child can be put down. Bullying and teasing are obvious but, so often, the negative effect of a teacher casually commenting that a piece of work is not as good as usual can often be seriously underestimated. A throw away comment from a valued adult or an unintentional exclusion by a friend can combine with other “insignificant” events to completely undermine confidence.
To protect or not to protect
We would all love to wrap our children in cotton wool to protect them from minor set-backs but, in truth, we cannot and probably should not either.
Just about every child who comes through the MagiKats door actually needs us to help them to develop the confidence not only with their maths and English (although that is our core role) but to be strong enough to deal with the daily knocks. Even those who seem over confident and assertive or defensive are often masking the fact that they are curling up in side.
I love the blog from KalliKids because it is completely in line with my own thoughts. Enrolling children with us, an academically based out of school club, will often almost seem like a magic wand. I cannot tell you how often a parent reports, almost immediately, that work has improved and progress is so much better at school. In truth this is often long before we can really have had any significant impact from tuition but the confidence boost has already started to work its magic and, hey, who am I to knock it!
Spotting the good
One of our key policies is to turn every negative into a positive. Often the most difficult thing is to persuade a child that mistakes are GOOD as they are learning opportunities. Too often all they have heard is criticism for slipping up and not praise for learning from their mistake. They are often their own harshest critics and don’t need others to put them down more.
Twice a year, we hold a seasonal prize giving. All our students are recognised for their triumphs with certificates, medals and other prizes. It is their moment of glory when they step up on the “podium” and take their applause. I cannot begin to describe the way they swell with pride and the boost that it gives them. These are only twice a year events, with the dates advertised months ahead. Why oh why then are there some families who never make it because they have a lunch appointment or forgot and double-book?
We celebrate with those lucky ones who revel in their, all too seldom available, moment of glory but my heart goes out to those who miss out. We will make sure that they get the prizes that they have earned through their hard work but it is not the same.
The weekly praise and recognition of their efforts that we give, alongside the stickers and prizes, do much to give children confidence and an edge but the best moments of all come when all members of the home/child/MagiKats team are working together.
By Jan Lomas, Curriculum Director at MagiKats HQ
The article Jan was reading can be accessed here