Failing an exam is an ordeal which often makes students feel helpless and unmotivated, and can possibly dent their self-confidence.
For Ms Neo Jie Qi, passing a Math test or exam in secondary school seemed like an unattainable dream.
“No matter how hard I tried, I always failed Mathematics badly! Once, I scored 12 out of 100 marks. I practiced harder, but I still failed. I started to loathe the subject and procrastinated when it came to doing my Math homework. I was also stressed by the expectations of parents, teachers and peers,” said Jie Qi.
Succumb or Surmount?
In the face of tough times, some bounce back stronger, while some buckle under the pressure. The difference between the two is resilience. It is an outlook that determines our response and helps us cope with change.
Jie Qi chose not to give up. She decided to track back and start all over again with the basics.
“I revisited the Lower Secondary Math topics and asked my classmates and teachers for help. I realised, the more I asked, the better I understood. I picked up the concepts relatively fast too. Hard work will always pay off. I finally did well for Math in Secondary Three! The achievement boosted my confidence and instead of fear, I started to love the subject,” said Jie Qi.
Resilience can be learned and developed along the way, as we calibrate our thoughts, actions and behaviour. Embrace challenges. Do not just focus on the easy tasks or questions. Overcoming challenges will strengthen you.
“In Secondary 3, I realized that mistakes were learning opportunities. As I attempted more challenging questions, I was motivated to do better and overcame the fear. I grew to love Math. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I could become a Math teacher!” said Jie Qi.
Process or Results?
Jie Qi shared about a Growth Mindset and explained that people who adopt it believe that their abilities can be developed through dedication, hard work and effort. Brains and talents are just the starting point. Having a growth mindset builds resilience and creates a love for learning that is necessary for success.
“To inculcate a growth mindset in child, we need to see beyond results. Recognise the effort they put in and praise them. Praise them even if they fail because they tried. Focus on the learning process. This will help our children see failure positively and not give up,” said Jie Qi.
With a fixed mindset, people tend to focus on the final result, so when we fail, we give up easily.
“Although the results did not show immediately, I realised that I was making small improvements when I understood one concept at a time. To me, that was already rewarding,” said Jie Qi.
“Developing a love for learning is crucial. To do well, the child has to love the subject first. Encourage our children to be inquisitive and provide them with a creative learning space,” said Jie Qi.
Making the learning process fun helps to inculcate curiosity in children.
“Parents can try cooking with children and letting them practise Math concepts by measuring out the ingredients. When shopping for groceries at the supermarket, explore concepts of money and use the Goods and Services Tax (GST) as an example too,” suggested Jie Qi.
Stimulating your child’s interest in a subject or activity is critical in helping them learn. Faulting them for their mistakes may kill their interest. When they face setbacks, pick them up and help them make a comeback. Certain life lessons can only be learned the hard way and parents play a vital role in the journey of their growth and development.