Children are no strangers to stress and tension. Because they are ‘time-poor’ they have very little down time to process their feelings and concerns. The tension we feel as parents and teachers is unfortunately shared with children.
Our obsessions with their academic results and exams have caused children to question their self-worth, their intellectual ability and to doubt their ability to cope with school.
Stessed children learn less so everyone loses!
I have assessed many new children over the last 3 months and a common thread runs through most of these sessions – tension.
So many kids are tense, worried, tell me they are failing and CAN’T DO their work. They describe themselves as “dumb” and “stupid” and really cannot perceive they could possibly be smart, successful or able to overcome their difficulties.
Sadly – something all these children share is average to high intelligence and incredible gifts in:
- gymnastics/dance/sporting ability
- the ability to generate amazing ideas for writing
- really high artistic ability
- high problem solving skills
Their creative thinking skills are off the scale and yet they know we don’t value these gifts!
Why don’t we?
The world needs these creative gifts like never before!
Why do we consign these brilliant kids to the educational trash heap?
Sure – they often DO learn differently.
This means I have to think differently when I plan their lessons and I have to teach differently. I get kids writing and spelling words in bright colours, tracing them in sand-pits, on a giant white board etc and I’m happy to provide all these learning tools because this is HOW they learn. So, if children learn differently we all need to teach differently. We can’t keep consigning these kids to the educational rubbish bin.
I LOVE working with these super-smart kids. and I have to help them let go of the tension and negative thoughts they have built up around their academic achievement. It is a privilege to work with them.
I teach them to physically relax using kinesiology exercises, learn to adopt a positive mind set and I utilise art and journalling therapies to help with self-expression .
Its only after they can relax and drop the tension around academic matters that our children can truly start the remediation process. These kids need to be healed from the very education system that was supposed to help them!
We owe it to the future to roll back the tension levels kids feel. it just makes the learning process so much slower. ALL kids can be helped to see their own skills and to realise they ARE smart they DO matter and they CAN succeed.
Telling tales is considered to be a very “un-Australian” behaviour but let’s face it- as adults we often call it “whistle blowing” and often admire the truth tellers!
Children tell us “tales” for many reasons.
For sure they might be seeking to get their siblings or classmates into trouble. They also might be trying to become more popular with a teacher or to in some way weild personal power.
However- over my career I have often found these 2 reasons to be more evident-
- Risky behaviour has been witnessed – behaviours we would DEFINITELY want to be told about.
- A child has been bullied and is frightened and definitely want the behaviour to stop.
So- the message is- listen carefully and don’t just send children away before listening to them. At least listen and if their tale telling is inappropriate tell them why BUT do not tell them they cannot come back if something is important and needs to be communicated.
Children must ALWAYS know they can depend on parents and teachers to be there and to listen in troubling and problematic situations.
The following link raises some important points. Sure- especially as teachers, we get sick and tired of tales but we need to look closely at the reasons for the tales and consider if some action needs to be taken- even if it is just to be a receptive listener or to encourage a child in a situation that is bothering them.
Recently I have had a spate of year seven students who are suffering extreme anxiety and are obsessively worried about getting assignments done, homework up to date and studying for what seems to be a never ending round of tests!
The problem as I see it, is that while it does benefit children of year 7 age to have specialist teachers and to begin learning subjects in greater depth; these kids ARE still kids and do not all cope well with the pressures of high-school life.
I know there are many primary teachers employed in highschools to help the transition to be smooth and this is GREAT but the kids I am seeing are being treated like year 8 kids and-
- are expected to do at least 2 hours homework each night
- forget where the toilets are
- are terrified of the “big kids” and suffer lots of teasing and bullying
- have to carry around all their books and files on their backs like human snails because they can’t find their lockers or want to have EVERYTHING with them in case they’ve forgotten something and so on!
They are not being nurtured and helped to cope and in many cases schools are not paying enough attention to the needs of these younger students.
The transition should be made as seamless as possible but these children who were only just coping at primary school are now absolutely sure they are failures! How sad!
Whether or not there are sufficient staff or funds, schools CAN-
- Be kind and welcoming to all their kids and ensure ALL teaching and non-teaching staff are aware of potential problems that might occur for these younger children.
- Ensure teachers from different subject areas have an effective communication system in place so that kids do not have too many assignments to do each evening
- Be very aware that children in year 7 may have more need for home-room contact and access to counselling
- Understand All year 7 children need regular help to develop the positive growth and mindset skills that will help them with their studies and high-school life.
This IS serious. These kids are not just presenting with academic issues. These difficulties can lead to potentially very serious mental health problems.
We all need to think back to our own childhoods and remember that daunting, terrifying day we went to high-school.
I remember the year 12s at Albany high-school looked like GIANTS.
I can still recall the smell of donuts cooking in the school canteen but being terrified of lining up with the giants to buy one! It all sounds funny and silly now but at the time was TERRIFYING!
Taking our year 7 students to highschool was never going to be easy- let’s use our emotional intelligence and just plain commonsense to ensure we don’t shred their self-confidence and kill their enthusiasm and enjoyment of education!
Please call me on 92777596 or 0409911135 or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like extra help for your child.
Here is some extra information and interesting thoughts on successful transition to highschool.
I have not had enough of my “dreaming under the Christmas tree” time and my looking into the lit tree and imagining other worlds.
I want this year to be a year of going slowly enough to really notice what is happening- really deeply in all ways.
I have been kid-watching and teacher-watching this month and reflecting deeply on the REAL needs of kids. (And teachers!)
As I watched our teachers run EQ4KIDZ, BOOST, ART FROM THE HEART and YOUNG SCIENTISTS I noticed common threads.
It was all about CONNECTIONS and RELATIONSHIPS. As the kids bonded with teachers work improved. As teachers got to know their students their teaching methods became more precise, levels of humour increased and lesson enjoyment for both pupils and teachers increased!
As we begin our academic year and have our first staff meeting I want to posit that RELATIONSHIPS and love of children must come first.
TEACH ONLY WITH LOVE will be our mantra this year.
Love comes before the worksheets, teaching techniques, expensive resources. Teaching delivered with love is the way.
Teachers will never be replaced by machines. Teachers can love and love will always lead to higher results.
I declare this to be a year of unhurried, deep, effective teaching and lots of extended celebrations!
At Church today the Pastor talked to us about how God’s love provides a safety net for us and enables us to move forward with confidence knowing we are loved and cared for so fully.
Alison told us that when the Golden Gate Bridge was built, a safety net was put in place, allowing the workers to move about more confidently and safely while incidentally increasing productivity.
This made me think about children in our classes. When children know they are loved and safe to take risks, try new learning techniques and learn from mistakes, test scores and academic performances improve. To put it simply: Happy, supported children learn more.
The safety net that can be built in all educational environments needs to emulate a healthy home environment. Children must know they are loved and safe and not all expected to achieve at the same rates. Without this safety net children will just take the safe path and not take any risks with learning and this means they will not be giving of their best.
A truly high quality system will always encourage students to “stretch” their intellects and go for gold- even if they fall down sometimes. The safety net of love and encouragement will help students stand up quickly, improve their “bounce factor” and learn from their mistakes.
So how do we weave such a safety net? To my mind these factors are crucial:
- Teachers need to LOVE their students- not in a soppy meaningless way but in a way that respects children and understands that kids make mistakes- they are after all LEARNERS!
- Teachers with challenging students need real assistance to be able to provide that loving safety net as there are always kids who try the patience of even the most loving and understanding educator.
- Teachers themselves need a loving safety net of respect and understanding from their admin teams who in turn need it from their departments. Teachers who are not free to try our new techniques and whose only concern is to get kids to pass tests will NEVER get the best academic results from their students. Fear is a very poor teacher.
A loving safety net to help all students feel cared for, respected and affirmed could absolutely transform all education environments- and lift education standards without the pressure and cajoling that occurs so often.
We notice how often children who do our EQ4KIDZ course surprisingly get higher academic results. We really should not have been surprised, given the strong correlation between self esteem and successful learning.
Thanks Alison Gilchrist for your sermon today! I’m going to check our safety net for International Centre for Excellence and make sure there are no weak spots!