Every child is unique. He or she comes into the world with special gifts. Some are gifted in athletic pursuits, some in musical ability, some are destined to be great artists, while others will be able to repair any mechanical equipment the mind of man can devise.
Despite varying innate abilities, these children will all attend school to gain basic literacy and numerical skills. Some will do outstandingly well, while others make average or below average progress.
The following are some of the factors which will influence a child’s success in school:
* General Health
A child who is not feeling well, will not learn easily. If he has a sore throat, a headache and a fever, he may even doze off with his head on the desk. Trying to teach him anything that day would be an exercise in futility. If he has a number of such illnesses during one term, his marks are likely to fall.
Some children suffer from chronic conditions such as asthma, anaemia, seasonal allergies, untreated AD or ADHD, malnutrition, Tourette’s syndrome, or autism. Any of these conditions are likely to negatively affect educational progress.
Not every child has a superior I.Q. Most children fall into the “average” category. If a child is working hard, and doing his best, he should be praised and supported, no matter what marks appear on his report card. Excessive pressure and negative comments will damage his self-image and confidence and will only make matters worse. Neither parents nor teachers should ever compare a child to a smarter sibling or cousin.
* Home Environment
A child who never sees his parents pick up a book. a newspaper or a magazine is not going to be anxious to learn to read. The children with the best literacy marks have usually been read to since babyhood.
Every student needs support and encouragement from home in order to do well in school. When parents attend school functions, interviews, Open Houses, and PTA meetings, it demonstrates to the student that what happens at school is important and that he is expected to put forth his best effort to succeed in his studies.
* Effective Teaching
The best teachers love their students and do their best to help every child in the classroom succeed. When a child experiences difficulty in any area, the parent should alert the teacher immediately, so he can explain the lesson to the child again. The parent may then be given extra drill material to work on at home with the student. After all, parents and teachers have the same goal: to see the child happy and successful during the school year, and moving on to the next grade in September.
* Absence of Stressors
A child who is worried about where he will live after mom and dad divorce, about a serious illness in his immediate family, or about the bully waiting to beat him up after school, will not absorb much academic knowledge. It is in a student’s best interest to keep his environment and close relationships as calm and stress-free as possible during the school year. In addition, for most children, one extracurricular activity a week is enough stimulation.
The school years pass quickly and the child’s true strengths and abilities are likely to show up during their educational journeys. The blue ribbon won during the Grade 8 cross-country race, the art chosen to adorn the wall of the School Superintendent’s office, the piano solo during the Christmas Concert in Grade 6, the Science Fair award won in Grade 10: all these are indicators of possible future career paths.
For some, acquiring literacy and numeration skills may actually seem to be only incidental, but they are necessary, and wise parents will do their best to help their child succeed in every area of the school curriculum.