Why do students underperform in school?
Some parents might be wondering ‘Why isn’t my son/daughter performing well in school?’ When students do not perform, they might be subjected to ‘unconscious conditioning’ by their teachers or parents.
Phrases such as
- Why are you so stupid?
- Why can’t you do this kind of simple things??
- Why can your friends score ‘A’s and you can’t??
Over a certain period of time, subconsciously they are programmed to believe that they should be performing badly and it would be a ‘miracle’ for them to do anything better. Since people around them are accustomed to such performances, slowly, they start to believe that they deserve this. Such negative self-belief (Limiting self-belief) cultivated over time, would damage their self-image and compromise their learning capabilities.
Studies show that by making a comparison between students who outperform and students who underperform, psychologists note that during lessons, the former would harbour positive self-talk and remind themselves that they have to make full use of the lesson. On the other hand, the latter would have their brain switched off and sometimes telling themselves that certain lessons are boring and cease any learning opportunities during the particular lesson.
There is a saying that ‘if you do what you do repeatedly over and over again, expecting the same results, it is insanity’. Likewise for parents who constantly hope for their kid to perform, should explore a different methodology to assist them in their education. If parents would love to see improvements in their kids’ performance, they can take the following steps.
- Stop comparing them with their peers
Do not compare their child with others as it puts unnecessary pressure on them. In a meritocracy society (like Singapore), parents cannot help but compare their kids’ results with someone else. Instead, parents should assert that they compete with themselves. In addition, when the child does well, informing friends and family about their child's successes would build their self-esteem. Therefore, we support our child, even when (and especially when) he gets low grades and help him do better next time. Do not compare children with other siblings or peers, but when they do well, it doesn't hurt to relay the news to friends and family!
- Encourage their every small improvements
Parents out there, can you recall how did you respond when your child first pronounced ‘PAPA or MAMA’? Did you smile at them and point a ‘thumbs up for that’? Men and Women die for recognition. In the office, our bosses only recognises someone who did something wrong! If due recognition is given to them, they would strive as hard to get your affirmation and appreciation. Whenever they have improvements, give them a pat on their back and encourage them.
Tell them ‘I’m proud of you! 加油! If they made tremendous performance, recognise that and bring them out for dinner. You can see the magic in such positive phrases and in fact there is a book written on this subject. (10 powerful phrases by Rich Devos).
- Stop putting them down and love them regardless of their results
Our subconscious cannot differentiate right from wrong. It will believe anything that we repeatedly tell them. When parents use negative phrases on their kid, unknowingly the kid is programmed to what we say to them. Parents should aim to have a positive environment at home as we are a product of our environment. The piggy-bank game can be played to forfeit $1 from the person who speak a negative phrase.
P.S your home might end up being really quiet! (TRY IT OUT AND YOU WILL KNOW!)
Unconditional acceptance is the rule and acceptance is not enough. When their child gets low grades, parents do their best to help (by tutoring him themselves, researching reference materials, consulting the teacher or rethinking the balance of academics and extra-curricular activities.) No matter what, love them anyway!
Even though achievers seldom get very low marks, but when they do, families are still loving and supportive. Since no one is perfect, give them space to make mistakes and learn from them. (Frequent low grades are another matter, of course.)
- Helping them to get their first win
The feeling of being appreciated is exceptional. There is another feeling that would make students to go the extra mile- Get A for the first time. When the student gets to experience their first ‘A’, they might be recognised in class. They would more friends coming to them to consult them. These boost their ego and make them work extra hard to maintain their position. But parents are wondering, how can they help their kid to experience winning in exams? Parents can also look for tutors to guide their kids to experience their win! In Achievers Dream, there will be a positive environment to help students to learn effectively. In addition to the small teacher to student ratio, they pride themselves to produce students with good people skills and EQ (which is more important in the society).