I dug this from the 2014 Wadadli Pen submission files recently and thought it was worth sharing. It’s an article by Karen James, a teacher at St. John’s Catholic Primary and contender for the Lead by Example Teachers Prize. The first round judge assessed it “interesting, well researched, but not relevant for the purposes of the competition.” Keep in mind that the Teachers Prize Challenge was about producing a creative piece they could share with students as a model of what they themselves can do. There was also an issue with the length of the piece. That said, it definitely seemed like the kind of knowledge that should be passed on to other teachers and parents as well, which the judge also said. So, I thank Ms. James for giving permission to post it. In giving such permission, she said, “the research has paid off and my son is now doing really well in secondary school”; and expressed the hope that it would be helpful to others as well. Each one teach one, we say, as we pass it on.
For some time now, I have been struggling to lead my child, a student in primary school, to a place of total success. Misspelt words, writing ‘b’ for ‘d’, copying wrong information and acquiring low grades in other subjects because of wrong spelling have become very depressing and tiring. The quest was on. I was determined to find out how to bring my child to a place of success. Through interviews, research, observations and discussion, I was surprised to find out that school attendance is not the only determinant for a child’s success but there are other surprising contributory factors.
A child’s attitude or perspective towards life can determine his success. According to the view point of the school, this originates in the home. Parental and family attitude about learning is one of the most significant factors that influence a child’s ability to succeed in school and society. When children know that their parents expect them to attend school consistently, earn good grades and complete their homework, they frequently live up to those expectations. However, children without those familial expectations do not tend to see the importance of education and are more likely to skip school, ignore homework and perform poorly. Families can create a culture of high academic expectations by ensuring that their child has adequate time and space to do his homework, and by regularly discussing the topics he is learning in school (www.livestrong.com/article).
Results from a research done by a group of teachers from the Teacher Training Department, Antigua, showed that children whose parents model good behaviour and reinforce positive attitudes in them tend to be successful in life. In addition, they are better individuals to associate with in society. On the other hand, children whose parents model bad behaviour such as negative language towards life and their children, disrespectful attitudes and poor problem solving skills (e.g. fights and arguments) tend to be unsuccessful in life. Hence, parents should therefore ensure that they model good behaviour and problem solving skills, reinforce the rules given and give suitable punishments or rein forcers to guide students. These will help to mould or shape students’ attitude into a positive one, thereby allowing them to have a positive outlook on life and fulfil positive goals.
Society believes that in terms of socializing, the influence a child’s peers have on him and his reactions to such influence are vital in determining his success. Psychologists have recently studied the powerful role of ‘peer cultures’ in children’s success. These are a shared set of activities or routines, values, concerns, and attitudes that children produce and share in interaction with peers. In other words, they are a set of rules that groups of students live by. These rules can be positive or negative and have proven to have powerful impact on children’s success.
During a five-year enrolment in a secondary school in Antigua, it was observed that there were different groups of students who would socialize all of the time. The groups had the following basic commonalities: eating together, walking home from school together, mostly associating only among themselves and doing a lot of other things together. However, what set the groups apart was their decision to do or be part of negative or positive activities.
In terms of negative activities, these included vandalism, bullying, stealing, inappropriate dress code and use of indecent language. Before the end of the five-year period, the majority of the members in the negative group (“the ring leaders”) were expelled from school due to their lack of progress. The members from that group who were given a second chance joined positive groups and graduated with distinction. Twenty years later, they can be seen in different business places contributing positively to society. The others, who were expelled, are either in jail, addicted to drugs or basically live on the street.
On the other hand, some of the positive activities included studying together, respecting each other and each other’s property, getting involved in educational clubs, and volunteering in community projects. All of the members in this group graduated within the five-year period and went on to pursue higher studies. Twenty years later, all of them can be seen in different work places contributing significantly to society.
This therefore shows that in order for students to succeed, they should ensure that the norms in their groups are positive and support achievement in school and everyday life. Parents should also ensure that their children are interacting within positive peer cultures since they are more powerful in defining issues of style, socializing and motivation.
Similar to attitude, the school and society think that motivation originates in the home. Positive motivation, whether intrinsic or extrinsic, plays a vital role in a child’s success. Motivation is usually defined as an internal state that arouses, directs, and maintains behaviour. A child needs to be motivated daily in every aspect of his life. This will promote his interest, energize him to work harder and enhance behaviour. Studies show that when motivation is present at home, children are more successful in life.
Parents can motivate their children in many different ways and thereby enhance their success. Accomplishing a task, receiving good grades, and portraying good behaviour are some of the actions that children can be rewarded for in order to enhance their motivation. They could be allowed to take their favourite snack, watch their television show or game, or have ‘free time’. Parents could praise their efforts, give them an allowance or even give them special privileges or responsibilities like choosing what will be for dinner. Parents have observed that children enjoy being rewarded and when this is done on a regular basis the children have a desire to succeed and will succeed.
Additionally, society believes that time is another important factor to becoming successful from an early age. On a whole, society operates on time and in order for anyone to cope in society and be successful, he should be able to manage time properly. Research has shown that a child whose parents have good time management skills and therefore model it, grow up being able to do the same. They are high achievers in different aspects of their life. However, a child whose parents struggle with maintaining time schedules, or basically have poor time management skills, become under achievers. They tend to fail at different points in their life. The school also joins with society in support of this point. Teachers suggest that parents should teach their children the importance of time management, make a time schedule of their child’s daily activities and most importantly model time management. This modelling is done by getting them to school on time, being on time for their appointments, completing assignments on time and any other activities which involve the child.
Another important factor influencing a child’s success, according to the school and society, is socioeconomic status (SES). This is a measure of a family’s relative position in a community, determined by a combination of parents’ income, occupation and level of education. It is important that a child should generally be in good health to aid in his success. Most children are very active in life and need to maintain good health in order to succeed. SES influences success through basic growth needs such as nutrition and medical care. A lack of either can contribute to health problems, which in turn hamper their achievement. Parents with high SES are more likely to take their children to the doctor and dentist regularly than parents with low SES (Eggen, P. and Kauchak, D. (1992). Educational Psychology: Classroom Connections. New York: Merrill).
At a primary school recently, teachers were allowed to meet with parents whose children were underachievers to determine the reason. After individual and group discussions, the finding showed that 25 out of 30 students came to school each day without breakfast and went through the day without any thing wholesome or nutritious to eat. It also showed that the same number of students had not visited the doctor or dentist in over three years. Further investigation showed that 20 of the 30 parents had low SES. Teachers suggested that students receive a balanced meal daily, eat healthy snacks and receive vitamin supplements. A plan was put into action to ensure that this was done. The teachers also suggested that the parents take students to visit the doctor and dentist regularly. When students are in good health, they tend to be more successful in life.
In the view of parents, the availability of educational resources at home and school will aid in a child’s success. From a recently held Parents Workshop, which was conducted to inform parents of strategies they could use to enhance their child’s performance and their integration into the school system, parents observed and experienced the importance of using different manipulatives to solve problems in and out of the classroom. The idea was supported by all present and they pledged to use these manipulatives at home and also provide those needed for school. Experienced resource individuals speaking at the workshop stated that students who used different resources such as additional workbooks, hands-on materials, or visited resource centres such as a museum, are more successful in life that those who do not use them.
Educational programmes or extended learning programmes have a similar impact on a child’s success. The school and society believe that enrolling a child into different educational programmes can enhance his success. Some of these programmes are the library, summer camps, sports clubs, reading clubs, or even extra classes in one or more subjects. Parents should observe their child’s weaknesses, strengths, likes or dislikes and discuss it with them, then select the right programme which will enhance their performance. Educational Programmes can be used to strengthen a child’s weakness, provide hands-on experiences, teach them a lifelong skill, form lifelong relationships with other children in these programmes and, most importantly, they contribute significantly to their success in life. According to Ohio’s Resources for Extended Learning Opportunities, a good extended learning program will help students improve self-confidence, reduce harmful behaviours including alcohol and drug abuse, and improve reading and math test scores. Extended learning opportunities may be school-based or community-based and provide fun, constructive activities after school, on weekends and during summer breaks (http://www.livestrong.com/video/2994-prepare-child-school/). It has further shown that students who grow up to succeed greatly in life have been a part of some sort of educational programme. Parents are therefore urged to reap the benefits of these programmes by enrolling their children.
Every parent’s dream is to have a successful child. Every child’s dream, no matter how low his achievement rate might be, is to do better or be successful in life. The key or secret to children’s success is not only the school they are enrolled in but the incorporation of beneficial factors which have been questioned, researched and tested. The integration of these factors will help to create or mould a child to become successful in life and they will be able to contribute greatly to society.
IF YOU LIKED THIS ARTICLE, you might also be interested in reading ‘One Model of Effective Parenting’.
As with all content (words, images, other) on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Fish Outta Water, Oh Gad! and, forthcoming, Burt Award finalist Musical Youth). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about WadadliPen and my books. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, with credit, are okay, lifting whole content (articles, images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. Respect copyright.