As National Junior Robotics Competition and other major examinations draw nearer, I thought it will be useful to share some tips on supporting our students to achieve the best learning outcome in this season. Our students are constantly under pressure from themselves, their teachers, trainers and sometimes parents too. How can we support our children so that they can learn effectively? Here are five ways to help manage their stress and gear them up for the many other challenges ahead.
1. Teach them how to plan.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
Good preparation and planning are key ingredients of success. We deliberately plan and prepare for a variety of activities, ranging from examinations, interviews, presentations, to buying a house and starting a family. Similarly, our students need to plan and stage themselves for success. The art of planning can be taught through routine family activities. Using one of the tips shared in my earlier post on empowering our child’s learning, you can involve your child in the planning for a family day or play day. Spend some time to let him take on a role of an event organiser and teach him how to plan. Slowly but surely, he will begin to plan his own schedule and realise that he has the full ownership over his actions and time. Everything is after-all, in his control.
2. Engage them early.
Try voicing out your thoughts, “It seems like you’re frustrated with yourself today.” Not only does it help your child understand the proper terms to express his emotions, it allows him to know that you understand and care. There is a saying which resonates strongly with me,
They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
You can use this time to hear your child out on what is the underlying cause of stress. From a typical weekly 2 to 3 hours of co-curricular activity in schools, I learnt that there isn’t much time for me as a mentor to engage every student. Usually, I’d be addressing technical issues or mentoring them in their teams. Hence, parents are pivotal in engaging them early and subsequently sharing with the education partners about their concerns. Having these engagements is an important step towards having a good relationship with your child.
3. It’s okay to make mistakes.
For students, and even adults, a lot of stress comes from the fear of making mistakes. Help your child learn to plan the next step to recover from a mistake. Here at C4RL, we explain through the Engineering Design Process model to get them used to improving, making amendments and even reconstructing the plan after learning the lesson from the mistake. An engineer should not be afraid of mistakes and let alone accumulating stress from them. While we believe that developing good plans is an important skill to acquire, the skill which might be even more important is learning how to recover from a bad plan. At home, you can turn every mistake made to be an opportunity for them to learn to recover.
4. It’s okay to feel stressed.
Let’s face it. You and I have our own stress over work and so does your child too. The difference is that we happen to have more coping mechanisms than our young ones. We have planners, offs, leaves and friends who always seem to be online on Whatsapp. In short, we have much more resources, time and space to cope with our stress. Teach your child that just like how making mistakes is part of the process, feeling stress is also part of the package. Stress is an integral of life.
Stress is an integral of our life.
We need to use stress positively and transform them into fuel to keep us going.
5. Lead by example.
I am sure this is the most common phrase heard when attending leadership courses. It applies here as well. How can one teach stress management when one lives a stressful life?
Is breakfast at home always a rush? Are you always rushing your child from place to place? Do you always seem to be busy in front of your child? These are some tell-tale signs that the day’s schedule requires a tweak. While we like to see our events and activities fit nicely back to back in our calendar, it may be wise to take into consideration of whether our students have the mental and physical stamina to push through.
There were several occassions when my students shared with me their busy schedule of having to rush after school for tuitions and enrichment classes. They have picked up the tell tale signs. They felt stress for their parents and they felt stress themselves from the schedule too. Taking a breather will be a win-win for both parties. Remember, you are a custodian of both yours and your child’s schedules.
You are a custodian of both yours and your child’s schedules.
Armed with these tips, let’s lead by example and continue to give our students the support and guidance that they need to tackle the upcoming competition and many other challenges ahead. Together, we can support and stage them for success.