The Happiness Connection  

Honour your child's effort

Perhaps it is because I was a teacher for so many years that I always approach the end of August with a slight feeling of sadness.

For many, it marks the end of a carefree summer life, and a return to the world of education.

Going back to school affects not only teachers and students, it also changes life for parents.

Thoughts of going back to school brings with it a variety of emotions, including excitement, anticipation, and dread. For some, school is a wonderful time, for others it is pure torture.

Happiness is a choice, and there are choices you can make to help set yourself, your children, your grandchildren, or your students up for their best year ever, both academically and emotionally.

Concentrate on the purpose of education

Sometimes I think people have lost sight of why we send children to school. It isn’t to get As or to lessen the cost of childcare; it is to learn.

If you want your children, or students to have a good academic year, focus on that goal. Stop concentrating on the marks they achieve, and honour the effort they put into learning.

Young children go to school as thirsty sponges. They are curious and ready to learn. Unfortunately, they quickly realize they are being compared to others. As soon as that awareness kicks in, their curiosity fades.

We have reached a point where going to school is more about getting good grades than it is about curiosity, discovery, and learning.

If students go to school believing the only acceptable option is to produce A work, what happens if they don’t?

Often these students turn to strategies like cheating, or they stop trying to learn. What’s the point? This is when they become behaviour problems, or start looking for other ways to occupy their time at school.

Make sure your children and students realize that learning isn’t reliant on getting an A. It is about gaining new awareness, skills, and knowledge.

Focus on progress rather than achievement. Talk every day about what they’ve learned.

The learning doesn’t have to be subject oriented. What did they learn about themselves, working with others, or dealing with challenges.

If they didn’t learn anything – a common response – talk about how that was a waste of a day. They are there to learn. It may take some practice and encouragement for them to stop giving “Nothing!” as an answer.

Celebrate individual differences and the ability to get smarter

Not everyone is naturally good at math, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get better. You don’t have to be the smartest person in your class to be a top-class learner.

We all learn at different rates, and start with different skills and abilities, but everyone can learn and get better. Concentrate on the progress they are making rather than comparing them to others.

Help your charges celebrate their own learning journey as well as the victories of others. You aren’t in competition with anyone but yourself.

Honour effort over achievement

Does students who get an A without trying, deserve more recognition than students who works their socks off and gets a B? Absolutely not. If you can get an A without trying, imagine what you could achieve if you put in some effort.

It is time for parents to stop putting their praise into achievement, and look instead at how hard their offspring have worked and whether they are learning.

If one child worked hard for an A, and another one worked hard for a C, they should both be celebrated. The person who shouldn’t be honoured for achievement is the child who didn’t make any effort to learn, regardless of the mark received.

It is hard to fight against the school system of comparison and grading, but there are things you can do to lessen its effect.

For anyone who wants to read more about setting your children or students up for their best year ever, I am offering a back-to-school special.

On Sept. 1- 2, you can get the eBook of Modelling Happiness by Reen Rose on Amazon for free.

This is not a sales pitch, and I will receive no royalties if you take advantage of this offer. I simply want to help you, and the children in your world be happier.

If you read the book and are able to write an honest review on Amazon, I would be grateful.

If you go to school to learn, and put in the work necessary to accomplish that, the marks will take care of themselves.

Even if you don’t bring home As, you will be satisfied that you brought home the best marks you could, and more importantly you will know you came home smarter.

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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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