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Enhancing Academic Confidence During the Pandemic

Jay M, Greenfeld, Ph.D., C.Psych.,

As schools and our province have shifted from code orange to code red and some returning to virtual classrooms entirely, what is at stake is consistency with the education that our children are receiving. The teachers and all administrative staff at the various schools are going above and beyond their call of duty to ensure the children remain safe and healthy while enhancing their learning at school. However, what has come to my attention in the recent weeks as the students have become used to their new school norms, is that not all students are maintaining their motivation. The students within the high extreme end of the continuum in the class are doing well and completing their work, but may not be challenged the same way they were in years past. The students that need more motivation to get started on assignments and remain on-task are struggling which is leading to a direct impact on their confidence. Although it is not a major concern (as of yet), the greater concern that appears emergent is the longer term effects on the students and their confidence within the realm of academics. Regardless of where your child lands within the curve of their classroom or grade, early intervention to help improve their confidence and decrease any Anxiety surrounding school is imperative.

For the parents who have children needing additional assistance throughout the year, it is most imperative that begins now, regardless of a pandemic. To help facilitate your childís learning and ensure that it is done collaboratively both at home and school, discuss with your childís teacher what you can do in addition to what may be happening at school. The most important aspects include encouragement and positive reinforcements for your child because they need to return to their ìjobî every single day or based on the setup throughout the pandemic, every second day. When various aspects are difficult it can lead them to worry about school the night before, repress any feelings they have about what they will be faced with each day, while simultaneously not having access to their regular outlets because they have been cancelled due to the pandemic. As a result of all of these circumstances, their motivation can decrease significantly. Start by focusing on 15 minutes per day of each area that is a challenge for them and reward them for their involvement. Secondly, if there are multiple areas, have them decide the order in which they want to accomplish the tasks. Additionally, compliment the activity they have a hard time with academically with engagement in an interest of theirs that does not involve screens. The more engaged they can be, the more likely they will mesh within the class.

For the parents that have children in the middle of the academic continuum, where your children are in the heap of the pack in their class- encourage them to take risks with their academics. We do not know what the whole school year will look like and because of the uncertainties that emerged as last school year finished, it is important to ensure they are able to maintain the progress they have made. Instead of them developing the notion that good enough is good enough, encourage them to take some risk in pushing themselves academically. Instead of just fulfilling the requirements of certain assignments, help them see they could probably go slightly further and if they do not succeed, they can learn from their efforts. According to Oliver W. Holmes Jr., once their minds are stretched, (even slightly beyond their comfort zone), they will rarely go back to the original dimensions. Your children are more likely to build their self-confidence by learning from their errors because they will learn they can try rather than avoid the effort. Helping to empower your child with a sense of grit and resilience as opposed to only doing what they are most comfortable with, can inspire them more than deter them in the future.

Finally, if your child tends to be more of the high achiever and embrace the personality type of the student that is often aiming for their highest potential grade, during this current time of uncertainty, start by helping them relax. Every grade and every assignment is important in school because each requirement is a building block to their learning. However, it is important that they do not consume themselves with the notion of perfection as that can often be subjective and lead them to feel less confident if they are not able to attain that optimal grade every time they are assigned something. However, if they are seeking more stimulation from their academics because they have more time, begin by encouraging them to do more than what the curriculum has laid out for them this year. Have them engage in aspects that can enhance their learning outside of school as they may not be able to do certain things in school because of the smaller class sizes, less time spent at school, or the reliance on the virtual classroom. All of the aforementioned factors can create limitations within the curriculum and additional challenges for the teachers.

However, remember, their teachers are very smart, but have to account for every single student and learning abilities within the classroom, so have your children access help from their teachers. Have them engage in the art of asking their teachers for more creative assignments they can do on their own, if they are unable to do them in school. For example, if the students are not able to engage in routine public speaking because of the setup of their classrooms during the pandemic, have them pick topics they need to research and then present those topics to family members giving them the practice. Order additional resources online, download apps for them to use as practice leading them to feel more confident that they are stretching themselves. Often students within this realm are seeking more or wanting to do more. Right now they may be limited because they are not as likely to engage in certain volunteering roles or excel within athletics or creative arts because those avenues are not available and for the foreseeable future. However, they can build on the skills they have and enhance their reading comprehension, their written composition, and learn about topics that may not be focused on in classes, leading them to feel more confident in life. With the cancellation of so many activities, no better time than the present to empower our children to use their time more wisely in ways that will strengthen their minds and academic potential through the expansion of their interests.


Feature Articles:

100 Winter Break Family Fun Ideas!

Holidays 2020 - A new experience

Winter Break Crafty Family Fun!

Enhancing Academic Confidence During the Pandemic

Recognizing the early signs of a learning disability

Pandemic Resource Directory for Families


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