Preschool Principal Jessie Tan has important advice on the preschool to primary school transition: pursue positive attitudes first, rather than good grades
Let’s talk about attitude. It’s a state of mind and beliefs, habits, plus motives associated with a particular object or topic. Our attitudes drive us to do things, which are either positive or negative, and every action will have its repercussions.
It is so important to develop a positive attitude towards life as young as a child. Otherwise we risk them growing up with a negative attitude and set of beliefs that could lead them on a less-than-beneficial path in life.
As a parent and preschool principal at Raffles House Preschool, with many years of experience working with young children and families, I’m fortunate to see many navigate the emotional transition from preschool to primary school in a positive way, thanks in part to the crucial support of their families. However, there are some who do struggle when they need to face the reality of suddenly handling the demands of tests and exams that come along with primary school. What is the secret ingredient that makes or breaks this journey?
Here is my take as a mum and educator in the preschool sector:
Grades are not the main indicator for success
Remember, parents: how a child performs on an exam DOES NOT determine their future success. Grades are simply one form of indicators (in this case, written) to reflect what is being taught in school. Exams are NOT an indication of how smart the child is. As a mum, even I sometimes worry when my child’s test results do not meet our mind’s expectations. Of course, I also have the power to tamp down this instinct and see it from another perspective.
Right from the start, many people are conditioned to believe that they have to be better than someone else in studies, rather than simply focusing on their own strengths and passions and finding fulfilment as they discover their own identity.
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Take, for example, the Dwarf Willow, the shortest tree on Earth, and the Sequoia Redwood, the largest and tallest. If your perspective is simply that being taller is better, even if you went around chopping down Dwarf Willows to only leave the tallest one, it would still be significantly shorter than even the smallest Sequoia. Then all you’re left with is a lonely Dwarf Willow; no matter what it can never be like the Sequoia Redwood. This is what’s happened to most human beings; they become crippled by trying to be better than someone else in pursuing grades, in the process sacrificing the enjoyment of the journey, as well as relationships with others. What is the purpose of an educational system mindset like this? It’s like a veil covering the eye.
Children reach their maximum potential when they can freely express themselves in the face of appropriate challenges; this helps to instil a positive attitude, too. Only when a human being can balance extended periods of joyfulness with challenges will they then stretch themselves to the limits and do what they never thought they could.
Positive attitudes achieve positive results
There is power in words, and we should always choose carefully what we say, as this reflects our belief system. Bolster your child with positive words and encouragement, and you will be rewarded with a confident child, who will hopefully in turn become a positive influence upon the next generation.
We need learn to speak right to the hearts of our children, praising them for their effort instead of simply praising them for the results. Acknowledge them for the process, or how hard they tried to achieve a result, rather than condemning them when they fail to reach adult’s ideals.
A positive attitude can also breed positive character. If a child believes he or she can, secure in the knowledge that someone who always believes and accepts them regardless is there to back them up, then he or she will learn to fail gracefully, then stand up and fight again. Of course, we also need to acknowledge the harsh realities of life (it’s not always fair!). If we can educate our children to be discerning and willing to admit mistakes in life – and hopefully never give up – that will build resilience, which is so vital in a human’s life.
On the flip side, habitual bad attitudes are often the product of past experiences and events. May we, as parents, choose not to deposit bad attitudes into the mind bank of our children, creating the possibility of low self-esteem, stress, fear, resentment, anger and an inability to handle change in our children’s heart. Start ridding yourself of this heavy baggage straight away and proceed to make that change in your child’s heart and mind, which will reap a lifetime of rewards!
We have the power to “unveil the veil of education” from the eyes of our child, by focusing on pursuing positive attitudes in life, rather than conditioning a child that getting good grades will determine success in life, which might not always be the case.
Let us relearn what we used to think is right and focus on positive attitudes in our parenting!