When I went through PSLE with my Son last year, one of our biggest struggles was mindset. I wanted my son to have a good attitude about learning. I wanted him to study diligently and do his work properly. I wanted him to choose studies over digital gaming. In other words, I wanted a perfect student.
My Son was not! He was a regular boy who could not understand the amount of work that began piling up on him. Because there was so much to do, he began to look for ways to cut corners so he could “play” a little. Can you blame him? I must confess that I felt really sorry for him on numerous occasions. P6 students really study very hard!
He became upset that he had more study time than playtime. Even though he understood in theory that it was PSLE year, neither he nor I could fathom the challenges we had to face that year. Because of the intense pressure, I began to coach him on having a proper mindset and good attitude. Boy, did that set off World War Three in our household.
His curt remarks “I already know it!” and “Why must I do it again?” drove me up many brick walls and him banging his head against some!!!
Months after PSLE, I asked him whether school taught him about mindsets and attitudes and what he thought of it? He was lackluster in his response at first. But I persisted and he let on that he does not “understand why he must know about mindset. It gets boring. Its like an extra lesson.”
On further probing, he confessed that the way they (him and his classmates) are taught about having the right mindset bores them. He also shared that he and his friends get frustrated whenever parents/teachers bring up attitude and mindset.
“We don’t know what the right attitude is! You (adults) need to be more specific when you explain about mindsets,” he says with a measure of exasperation in his voice.
Recently, I was part of a group of trainers despatched to teach primary six students about Growth Mindsets. I shared with my class how malleable the brain is – meaning that it could absorb and take in copious amounts of information and explained the difference between a growth mindset versus fixed mindset.
A student with a growth mindset sees opportunities when he is challenged. He also sees failures as a discovery for new learning paths and therefore also exhibits resilience. And he is not fazed by practices as he sees it as effort that has a positive outcome in the long run. Don’t we all want our kid to be like this?
At the end of the lesson, I tested my students to make sure they understood what growth mindset was. While most of the students could in theory regurgitate the meaning of mindsets and attitudes, I know that they would NOT absorb this abstract concept without any reinforcements from their teachers or parents. Hence, this post is meant for parents to understand what schools are teaching about growth mindsets and how they can reinforce this teaching at home and complement the school in cultivating this mindset in their 12-year-olds.
I thought this video provided an easy to understand explanation for parents and students.
Growth Mindset is originally coined by Carol Dweck, a psychologist from Stanford University. I am sharing this video on the same subject as I think this might appeal more to kids. Also, this video might give you some food for thought when it comes to how much weightage you give to PSLE.
After watching the videos, have a conversation/discussion with your child on his/her thoughts regarding growth mindset and how having a good mindset might help him/her during this PSLE year. These questions might help you figure out what are some of the struggles that your child might encounter this year.
- What are the stumbling blocks you encounter?
- How can you overcome them?
Here are some salient points about growth mindset that you can highlight to your child during the discussion. There might be others not on the list, feel free to add on or use any that you think applies to your child. At the end of the day, remember, you know best what your child needs.
- Control over your own life – many kids feel that they have lost complete control over their lives and just go through the motions (become robotic). Help them find areas they have control over and empower them to feel in control again.
- Keep trying and not give up – praise appropriately, encourage generously
- Take charge of your growth – work with your child to come up with a study plan.
- Admit when you do not know – some kids are so afraid of failure that they see it as a weakness. They refuse to ask for help and will not admit that they do not have the answers.
- Be honest with your weakness – help your child recognize areas they are not strong in (cloze passage, composition, science concepts etc) and assure them that you will work with them to find solutions.
- Take definite steps/action – have a strategy or learning plan.
- Set personal goals – take baby steps towards the goal
- Plan your study schedule – if you don’t already have one, sit down and work on it together.
- Seek help – who or what are the resources (teachers, classmates, parents, tutor) you can employ to help
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