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Looking Beyond SA1 Grades: 7 Ways To Build Resilience For Greater Success

Posted by Shafina Jaafar on May 17, 2018

Has your child received his or her SA1 results?
What are some ways to further encourage your child to improve and seek progress?

If your child has not performed as well as expected in these recent semestral assessments, it is important to find ways to move past disappointment and look forward to finding effective solutions that lead to improvement. At this juncture, it is essential to help your child to look at:

1.  the areas of difficulty he or she is facing with the curriculum
2.  ways to tackle areas of weaknesses such as setting aside time for more practices and revisions

In order to help your child make progress, it is critical to help him or her cultivate the attitude of a resilient problem-solver, rather than being subject to fear and disappointment.

Understanding Resilience As A Positive Learning Attitude

Resilience, in a nutshell, is the ability to remain optimistic in the face of setbacks or adversity. For your child who may be disappointed over his or her SA1 results, being resilient is about looking past his or her results and seeking ways to improve and do better at the next exam. 

When considering the factors that contribute towards building resilience, research tells us there’s more to understand than just the mindset of “never giving up”.

Understanding resilience as a positive learning attitudeBuilding your child’s positive attitude towards learning, both in and out of school, is part of seeking holistic development for your child — one that concerns itself with helping your child to develop the knowledge, skills and dispositions for success.

“It is important for parents to help their children develop positive attitudes towards learning. Increasingly, we hear of more evidence from education research that attests to how these attitudes or dispositions can really make a difference to children’s academic success.”

— Dr Lubna Alsagoff, Director of Curriculum, TLL

Developing resilience stems from inculcating a range of habits and behaviours that help your child to build mental and emotional strength.

While the SA1 results may not reflect your child's best efforts, helping him or her become a resilient learner will allow him or her to double up efforts to achieve desired results in future exams.

Here, we share 7 research-backed tips to help your child build resilience.

1. Learn From Your Mistakes

“It’s okay to make mistakes.” This is something that your child may not hear enough.

Indeed, the fear of “failure” or of making mistakes often impedes young learners from trying something different or moving on from a setback.

Research has shown that learning from one’s mistakes is important in making progress or improvement. This is closely related to helping your child develop a growth mindset — a frame of mind that encourages your child to embrace his or her capacity for growth and improvement.

Helping your child develop a “can-do” attitude begins with helping him or her realise that mistakes can become opportunities to do better if there is an element of reflection.

Encourage your child to ask questions such as “Where did I go wrong?”, “What can I do to prevent this from happening again?” or “Who can help me avoid making the same mistake again?” These questions are productive — they help your child face a challenge with a positive attitude (exactly what resilience is about).

2. Think It Through

Encourage your child to set aside some time each day for reflection and review of the day’s activities, challenges and emotions.

Research shows that helping your child to think through the events of the day gives him or her a chance to consolidate what he or she has learnt and to recognise the improvement or progress he or she has made.

It also helps your child become more aware of his or her thought process and emotional reactions to challenges, triumphs and the reaction of others.

For example, your child may share, “Even though I was upset that I didn’t achieve an A for English, I thought hard about what I really wanted and how I could improve. I will do more practices during revision time to familiarise myself with the different questions types so that I don't make the same mistakes again at the next exam. ”

Here, we see a reflection on an emotion — “I was upset”, a goal — “what I really wanted”, and a plan —“do more practices during revision time... so that I don't make the same mistakes again at the next exam”.

3. Grit & Bear With It

People often assume that resilience and grit have the same meaning.

However, while resilience is about having a good attitude towards adversity, grit can be defined as the ability to stay committed and motivated towards working to achieve a long-term goal.

It involves stamina, focus and the ability to make sacrifices in order to stay true to a goal.

So, why is this trait important? Having grit involves being resilient.

In this TED Talk, renowned psychologist and academic Angela Lee Duckworth shares about how having grit positively affects a child’s attitude towards education. She shares that it is not necessarily the brightest nor the most talented students who would go on to graduate, but the ones who showed the most grit who did.

Find out what she has to say about grit below:

“But what differentiates kids who are gritty from kids who are not gritty is not just the hours of work that they are putting in — they’re putting the hardest kind of work in.

They are not studying the words that they already know, they’re not sitting around being quizzed on what’s already pretty much coming easily, they isolate what they don’t know, they identify their own weaknesses and then they work just on that. And that seems to be characteristic of high achievement and of what grit enables you to do.

It’s basically, being in a very uncomfortable place for some part of your day, working extremely hard and then to get up and do it all over again and again and again.”

 — Angela Lee Duckworth

4. Stay Open-Minded

The underlying assumption of the need for resilience is that there will be unforeseen obstacles on the path to achieving one’s goals.

It is therefore essential for your child to be adaptable in the way he or she thinks or solves problems.

The ability to understand circumstances in order to find multiple working solutions to a problem can help turn a negative situation into an opportunity to discover new ways to succeed. Being open minded helps your child to avoid being fixated on a singular path to achieving his or her goals.

For example, there are multiple heuristics that can be applied to solving Math word problems or multiple ways to phrase a precise or accurate English comprehension answer.

Similarly, there is more than one path to becoming a lawyer or an artist — this where creativity meets resilience. Helping your child realise that there are options when it comes to overcoming challenges and pursuing his or her goals will give your child the confidence to dream up new solutions to possible problems.

5. Be Kind To Yourself

An important part of being resilient is the ability to cope with stressors.

Encourage your child to indulge in activities that are fun, relaxing or related to his or her personal interests. These pockets of time become outlets for releasing stress and prevent your child from fixating on one task or goal for all hours of the day.

Authors and researchers Steven Southwick and Dennis Charney penned a book entitled Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life’s Greatest Challenges, in which they detail 10 traits resilient people have in common.

They emphasise that having a healthy body is important — managing the ‘stress’ of physical activity can help your child develop emotional resilience as well.

6. Welcome New Challenges

We all know the phrase “comfort zone”. For children, comfort zones often refer to remaining at a certain proficiency or skill level, without improvement.

Part of aiding your child in developing resilience is about giving him or her safe spaces to always pursue the next challenge — to attempt a more difficult task, take on a little more responsibility or embrace changes readily.

For example, you might help your child build resilience by motivating him or her to expand on existing knowledge and boosting his or her confidence.

Think of these statements: “You’ve already mastered topic A, you’ve definitely got what it takes to tackle topic B,” or, “Now that you’ve shown me how well you solve these Math equations, I’d like you to attempt these problem sums on your own.”

These examples can help to set your child up for success by allowing him or her to recognise a challenge, believe in his or her current abilities and continue to press forward to achieve just a little more.

7. Finish What You've Started

Part of building a strong sense of resilience in your child is helping him or her find the intrinsic motivation to keep pursuing success in the face of adversity.

Motivation is important for your child both in the classroom and in life — helping your child stay on the path towards success begins with helping him or her avoid “learned helplessness” (i.e. “I don’t think I can).

Giving your child quality and timely feedback by communicating openly gives him or her a real sense of achievement and pride in his or her own efforts.

For example, helping your child realise that he or she has some level of control even in unfavourable situations (such as failure) helps to build his or her motivation.

It can mean the difference between saying “I can’t do this Math problem sum, it’s too hard,” as opposed to, “This problem sum is difficult, but Ms Tan told me that I’ve learnt the topic well, so I am going to apply what I know. If I can’t solve it on my own, I can choose to ask for help.”

Here, we see the motivation to “apply” knowledge and to “choose to ask for help”, which brings your child closer to achieving success.

Related Article: How Do I Motivate My Child?

Set Your Child On Track For Semester 2 And Beyond

Give your child more guidance to ensure he or she is on the right track for the rest of the year.

Dr Lubna Alsagoff, Director of Curriculum at TLL, emphasises the importance of positive and productive dispositions in order for students to find success.

“The challenge is always to do better for our students, to help them adapt to the changes in the global and local landscape. To do this, it is increasingly important that education develops children holistically. While it is important to provide well-rounded academic programmes that develop our students, we focus as well on the development of life-long skills and positive and productive dispositions (mindsets and values)” — Dr Lubna Alsagoff

Besides focusing on exams skills, at The Learning Lab, your child can look forward to the engaging aspect of learning — lessons will include components to build critical analysis skills. This helps your child gain a greater understanding of new topics and concepts. 

Registration for Term 3 - 2018 programmes has begun

The Learning Lab is now available at 9 locations, including the Northeast at Seletar Mall, from June 2018.

If you have any enquiries about our programmes, please email us at enquiry@thelearninglab.com.sg or call us at 6733 8711 and we will be happy to assist you.