When babies are learning to walk, they fall (or fail) many times over. Babies need to repeat the process over and over again, until they get it right and are able to move on to greater movement such as running, jumping and skipping.
Cindy Glass, founder of Step Up Education Centres, says: “These ‘failures’ are normal and natural processes in the act of learning to walk. In fact, they are expected and hailed as signs of effort and future success!” She adds that as we grow older, our fear of failing tends to slow our progress and, in some cases, even stop it altogether.
“Children who ‘fail’ a grade, for example, often feel humiliated, ashamed, embarrassed and depressed. Their self-worth plummets and they often find it difficult to accept the fact that they will not be moving up to a new grade with their classmates,” Glass explains. Parents, too, struggle with a ‘failed’ grade as, often, they see it as an indictment on their parenting.
“Yet, if you think about it, ‘failing’ a grade is not all that different to trying to walk for the first time. Some skills need more time and attention to master and not all children learn at the same rate or even in the same way,” Glass adds. If your child is repeating a grade, Cindy gives you some tips to help them understand and embrace the opportunity:
No such thing as failing a grade
It is time to use different language when speaking about repeating a grade. Your child has not yet mastered the building blocks needed to move on to a new grade. They are being given an opportunity to repeat a grade in order to master these important skills.
Open and honest communication
Speak to your child about repeating the grade. Find out how they feel and what they will need from you in order to move forward with a positive outlook. Non-judgmental conversations are essential at this time.
Help your child to own and embrace the repeat. Help them to see it as a learning opportunity. Senior learners who may not have worked to their potential (resulting in having to repeat) need to identify and own the mistakes that they had made and look to the future knowing that they can and must make better choices for themselves.
Choose an environment that focuses on building self-esteem and emotional intelligence skills as well as academic skill.
No shame in repeats
Teach your child that they are not less of a person for having to repeat their grade. They have simply taken a different path to their classmates. Keeping your child’s self-esteem intact, while still teaching them to take responsibility for their learning is going to be your biggest challenge as a parent.
“Having to repeat the grade can be a tough experience for parents and learners, but it need not be the end of the world. You are your child’s greatest teacher. How you choose to move forward will set the tone for how well your child is able to adapt to the situation,” concludes Glass.