Did your child get bad first term marks? Here’s how you can help them improve during the holidays

This holiday, focus on becoming more positive and share feedback that’s bound to build confidence.
This holiday, focus on becoming more positive and share feedback that’s bound to build confidence.

As the first term of 2019 comes to an end, children around the country will be looking forward to their well-deserved break.

But if you’re a parent who’s struggling to find positive adjectives for your children's report cards, how can you motivate them to do a little extra work during the holidays to ensure they hit the ground running next term? Here are a few tips I’ve shared with parents when I was an educator. 

Also see: Parent24's Learn hub

Did your child struggle with their first semester? Tell us your story and we could publish your letter. Anonymous contributions are welcome.

1. Learning should be fun and relatable 

I feel that adults understand this lesson later on in life, when watching an exciting documentary. You need to ensure that the mini-lessons you’re planning are fun and relatable for your child. 

This will require some creativity and out-of-the-box-thinking. First, use your child’s interests as the basis for the lesson. If they love their Nintendo Switch, maybe use it as an example in the task. 

Example: If your Nintendo Switch has a 5-hour battery life and you’re driving to Granny’s house, which is two and a half hours away, how many trips can you make on one charge?

This example could be a little complex for younger learners, but you hopefully get the point. Make it fun and relatable. 

2. Give positive and confident feedback  

Most parents reading this article may feel that the “positive feedback loop” is very much new age “whoo-whoo” advice – but it works. Your child is sensitive and can easily regress further with negative feedback. As adults, we often focus on the cynical and even joke about it. The truth is, being positive is difficult and takes work, but in the long term it’s worth more than cynicism. 

This holiday, focus on becoming more positive and share feedback that’s bound to build confidence. If there isn’t something to celebrate, find something that can be recognised as a positive.

Example: If your child didn’t get any of their equations correct, rather focus on their thinking, perhaps complimenting them on the fact that they have a different approach to the problem. 

Also see: PRINT IT: Free study guides for maths, science, languages and more

3. Reconsider rewards

Often parents use rewards to motivate children; while this isn’t a totally silly idea it can lead to altering mindsets. Receiving a bar of chocolate for every correct answer will definitely end with a positive result during the holidays, but when they return to school they won’t get that kind of reward, and may not perform as well. This, in turn, will create a new negative loop which will be hard for them to break. 

Beware of the rewards you give them. Rather change the narrative so the prizes they receive aren’t material but a feeling of satisfaction. This can be achieved by complimenting them in public in front of friends and family. As an adult, you’re more than aware of how great it feels when you succeed, and this wasn’t because there was a chocolate bar waiting for you – it was all about that the feeling. 

4. Set goals to achieve  

When working towards a larger milestone you need to set out smaller goals to celebrate achieving along the way. Too often we set out on a mission to achieve a larger vision but don’t plan to acknowledge the efforts we’ve put in along the way – which means you land up feeling like you’re always working and this can lead to lost motivation. Plan easier to accomplish, short-term goals to achieve over the holidays, as the break isn’t particularly long. 

Also see: 5 tips to reduce children’s test anxiety

5. Being competitive never hurt  

Nothing motivates better than a little healthy competition. However, remember that there is a fine balance between just right and too much. Although, as mentioned before, the satisfaction of completing the task should be the real reward. 

You’re unlikely to find a school friend to compete against during the holiday, but we do live in the digital age where gamification is easily accessible for most lessons. There are loads of maths and reading apps that will chart scores and compare your results to other players. 

If you’re dedicated to motivating your child to learn this holiday, follow these tips above and you’ll be well on your way. 

Godfrey Madanhire is a professional life coach and motivational speaker. 

Chat back:

Did your child struggle with their first semester? Tell us your story and we could publish your letter. Anonymous contributions are welcome.

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