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Are You Pressuring Your Child Too Much For Those ‘Good’ Grades? Stop It And Help Them Make The Grades.

By Alison Kabaara Kiriinya

For many children, the final examination results of primary and secondary school are a big deal.

Many of our children are asking themselves the following questions.
1. If I fail these exams, what will I do?
2. What happens if I do not get into my favorite school?
3. What will my parents say if I do not get the marks that they are expecting?
4. If I had studied harder, would I have gotten better results?

Although these questions are valid, they are also a sign of desperation. What is the cause of this sense of desperation? Our grading system!

Grading is not necessarily a bad thing. The problem, however, is that our children have been led to believe that they will not succeed in life they do not attain a particular exam grade. Below are some the disadvantages of our current grading system.

1. It gives those who are not up to scratch low self-esteem. A child who is constantly at the bottom of the class will feel discouraged and worthless.

2. The system puts more focus on academic prowess rather than character building. Think about this – there are very few schools that give prizes for kindness, cleanliness, leadership, etc. Character building should be an important part of the educational process.

3. There is no room for the development of an individual’s gifts and talents. Many children struggle to attain the required grades while in reality if they had the chance to explore their talents, they would excel in those areas.

4. Parents have also been led to believe that grades are everything. Have you heard how your friends boast when their kids attain good marks and go silent when the grades are bad? What message are they communicating to their children through these reactions?

What is the way forward?
Not much can be done about the grading in schools. There are, however, several things that parents can do to counteract any adverse effects of this classification system. Here are a few tips on how to handle a child who is not making the grade.

a) Find out what your child's gifts are.
 Is there a particular thing your child loves to do? Have you taken the time to observe your child and see where his or her interests lie? You never know that hobby or pastime could lead them to a successful career path.

b) Encourage your child.
Some kids just need a little push from Mum and Dad to help them improve their grades. Sit down with your child and help with the difficult subjects. Study together for exams. Go out for a walk together as you both take a break and chat. Parents must, however, maintain a healthy balance between pushing and encouraging. Clear expectations should accompany every dose of loving encouragement.

c) Explore other options.
If your child is not an academic, find a school that has a wide range of extra-curricular activities. Avoid the schools that do lots of drilling, or where the children spend long hours in class. Not all children can cope with such a strict regimen. You could also opt to have your children explore their creative side on the weekends through sport, art or music classes.

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d) Love your child.
This child is God’s gift to you. It is, therefore, your responsibility to point this child in the right direction. If you are very harsh and demanding, you will find that your child confides less in you, and this will affect schoolwork. Accept your child and give guidance.

Help your child find his role in society. Making the grade will not guarantee your child success in life. If you desire the best for your kids, begin to instill values that will help them cope with the world out there. Teach them the values that you learnt as a child. Equip them for the challenges they will face in future. Love and encourage them. Most importantly, pray for them. That way, even if your child does not make the grade, he or she will be a confident and well-rounded individual.

Our Guest Author is a part-time teacher working in Ruiru and Nairobi, though she lives in Thika.
You can get in touch with Alison via Email address alison.kiriinya@gmail.com

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