Pushing through “the hard”


School is starting next week in my neck of the woods. And, in preparation for that, I thought I would share a post originally posted in 2009 on one of my older blogs. Hopefully this will help parents and teachers as we begin another year…

This has been an interesting week in my real life…I have had the opportunity to work with several children who are not doing well in their Middle School classes, earning grades below the expected levels for children their age.  Their parents, concerned, turned to the school for help.  After a series of accommodations to the curriculum, all of which resulted in little change, I was asked to consult.

I met with the kids, worked with them, and set up meeting with the parents.

The results of my findings with the kids…nothing wrong with the way they learn.  In fact, both kids were really quite smart – bordering on gifted.  So why were they having difficulties?  It is a question I ponder a lot in my job…

In the case of these kids, I think the answer involved the way the kids, and their parents by extension, conceptualized their learning experience.  Both kids felt like they could not be successful in certain aspects of school because it was so hard.  They had no idea what to do when they got that horrible feeling in the pit of their stomach that happens when we first see something we can not do.  They misinterpreted the feeling to mean that they were dumb – something clearly not true based on other school experiences.

So, what to do?

In working with these – and other – kids who have mental messages that are incorrect and negatively impact the way they function, I have had to learn how to help kids discern between correct and incorrect thoughts.

In a nutshell, this is one way to approach this – something parents and educators can try:

  1. Help child identify what they believe inside about learning.  Are they saying things like “it’s too hard”, “I’m dumb”, “I can’t do this”.
  2. Teach them to challenge those beliefs.  Ask questions like “Have you ever tried doing something like this before?  How did you do?”
  3. Help the child know that sometimes our minds give us wrong information. 
  4. Help children consciously decide which message – te “I can’t do it” message or the “This feels hard, but I am going to try” to believe.

When we encourage and teach our children to recognize incorrect mental messages and consciously change those messages, we give them a gift they will be able to utilize for the rest of their lives – the gift to push through things that are hard and achieve more.

 

What are your thoughts? Are there special things you will be reminding your kids of as we get ready for another year?