‘My chinese is so lousy, I cannot do this! I hate chinese!’
‘No, I don’t care. This is too difficult, I CANNOT!’
Do you feel weary hearing such negativity or frustrated lamentations from your kids?
I do. Somehow, as my children progress to Primary school, the joy for learning depreciates and slowly I notice such remarks grow louder as they meet higher expectations from school. No matter how hard we as parents try to encourage, scold and nag them to adopt a positive attitude, it is always an uphill battle.
In the recent years, I have been inspired by this ‘Growth Mindset’ philosophy going around the internet and shared a chart Here. Another article I chanced upon was ‘Why attitude is more important than EQ’. I quote from this article on Psychologist Carol Dweck behind ‘A fixed mindset and growth mindset study’ –
‘ “According to Dweck, success in life is all about how you deal with failure. She describes the approach to failure of people with the growth mindset this way,
“Failure is information—we label it failure, but it’s more like, ‘This didn’t work, and I’m a problem solver, so I’ll try something else.'”
Regardless of which side of the chart you fall on, you can make changes and develop a growth mindset. What follows are some strategies that will fine-tune your mindset and help you make certain it’s as growth oriented as possible.’
Why do I mention this growth mindset? What has this got to do with The Little Executive?
One distinct take away from TLE’s sharing from Carol Dweck is the powerful ‘YET’ word. Just add it to whatever your child says. ‘ I can’t do it … YET’ ‘ It cannot be ever completed… YET’ Even for me, I can add ‘ I am not patient ….. YET’
When this offer for a trial lesson was presented to me, my usual skeptic self will ring a bell. Another ‘enrichment’ programme? I raise my eyebrow. However, having read through their programme, and following MummyWee’s blog, I decided this was worth a try.
Basically, this growth mindset was the Key factor that convinced me to give a go for their trial lesson.
It was an interesting trial session. Instead of sitting in with your child in their classroom, the parents are led to another space to view a presentation from Michelle the Director. She went through meticulously the school’s philosophy, values and purpose. The slide below shows how IQ is insufficient in our changing world.
Instead, this special team proposes the following
- Essential Skills
- Learning Habits
- Growth Mindset
You can read their impressive curriculum and rationale Here.
This presentation was far from boring. It left a deep impression in me. I was mentally challenged by the brain activity I tried. It consisted of identifying numbers and colours according to the beat of the metronome in a pattern. It was simple at first, to give us confidence. Then the difficulty increased and we parents felt the heat of it. It took quite a bit of will power to complete the ‘test’ as my instinct was to give up! With Michelle’s encouragement, I completed it though off beat and wavering many times. The second activity was intriguing yet so common sense to me as a trained art teacher. It was a 3-Dimensional activity which required one to provide the directions of a certain location. These 2 were just the tip of the iceberg activities introduced to our lil ones in their course. Michelle also gave us a checklist to fill up and opened up discussion on why we selected those choices. With this insight, she shared deeper on some issues our kids face. We discussed what makes a successful person and her views resonated with me.
All these are great but giving kids such brain teasers seem to be another ‘enriching’ activity, and still did not buy me over.
What eventually bought me over was the attitude and values behind the activities. I sense a deep commitment from the team to connect with us the parents.
Michelle’s confession (she thinks that since she was herself a motivated and growth mindset parent, it would naturally or ‘nurture-ally’ rub off onto her kids but it was not the case), got me thinking. If you have been following my blog, you will know my hubs and I have been training our kids to instill good habits from young. e.g How to help my kids’ restless feet, itchy fingers and wandering minds. and raising motivated kids. However, the reality was far from the case of self-disciplined and highly motivated kids. Other than the fact that we must allow them time to grow, I saw something in TLE’s approach that might help bridge that learning gap.
The trial lesson consisted of a TEA (The Executive Assessment) Score, where my children are assessed based on their learning aptitude and attitudes. This report gave me a glimpse of how they ‘performed’ in class. Apparently, their activities are tailored to discover the learning gaps presented in the TEA. I was again, half in doubt as to how they actually ‘judge’ my kids.
My girl was full of excitement and enthusiasm as she played their games and did the activity worksheets. She immediately asked if she could continue next week. The same response goes for my boy. Below is an unusual way of playing ‘What is the time Mr Wolf’ with counting of syllables.
It is one thing to ‘preach’ about growth mindset, development of habits and imparting of skills. It is another thing to see the measures taken to materialise such lofty goals. When I saw the TEA score and the ‘Goal setting’ cards, it struck me that they are serious about what they stand for. The goal was not an academic one. It was a practical one designed to get each child to think through. Ok, for my girl’s level at K2, I think they might have copied each other’s idea. I guess it starts somewhere. Parents can also step in to understand more about their goals. J at P2 however had an interesting goal which I will elaborate soon.
After the session, the teacher Ms M spent some time to explain the TEA Score that my child received. For E, it was not bad, having moderate in most areas except in the area of ‘Self Monitoring’. Reason being, she was unable to explain why she had done well in an activity.
This made me reflect. I seldom ask her how well she thinks she can do in something, not to mention why she thinks she has done well or not! Her learning gap here was the lack of ability to give the rationale ‘because she got the correct answer, so she knows she has done well.’ She could not identify her success based on evidences. This struck me as a well crafted curriculum that weaves in metacognition skills. If she is given such opportunities to think about her own thinking processes, this skill will be a powerful force to promote behavioural growth.
Back to J’s written goal. Ms M’s TEA score was not surprising to me. He was mostly in the ‘Needs Work’ category except cognition and working memory. According to her, J can grasp concepts fast and retains new information. However, due to his impulse control gap, it affects all his other areas significantly. Basically, J is easily restless and his hands will wander into other friend’s boundaries. All these are well and fine. However, my pertinent question is this- So what? I put it in a nicer way to Ms M, ‘then how can I help support him in this area?’
In the short 10minutes, Ms M was able to identify how J has a fixed mindset which showed improvement after a lesson on the brain. It somehow gave him encouragement to reframe his mindset. From a ‘I can’t do my chinese. It is too difficult’ mentality, he actually set his goal ‘To improve his chinese’. In my mind I was like ??? I have been singing this tune for years but why J only acknowledged now suddenly upon a stranger’s suggestion? Perhaps, it required just that- a third party’s involvement to unlock that key for receptivity….
Lastly, she addressed my question with practical strategies like giving J precise instructions on what focus means and getting him to do mid-line crossing exercises to help him refocus. I was rushing for time so I did not have time to ask her to explain this part. However, having read before on mid-line activities, I was impressed by the useful feedback I could work on with my child. I had come across this article ‘Why crossing the midline activities helped this child listen’, and now it comes in timely to practice with J.
By the end of the trial, this focused parent -teacher session gave me much to look forward to the next few sessions! It is refreshing to have a program that not only focuses on my child’s growth, but also one that takes a two-pronged approach in collaborating with the parents to ensure successful growth top down as well as bottom up. For once, I am happy to outsource my kids to a meaningful enrichment programme.
To conclude, we can have the world’s knowledge but if we cannot harness our faculties for good, we are of not much service to the world. I am excited to see how we as a family progress from here! Tune in for our post review at the end of our funded sessions.
(Here’s the post review!)
Disclaimer: We were given 3 complimentary sessions for the purpose of this opening review. All watermarked photos belongs to the respective owners of GrowingHearts and The Little Executive. All rights reserved. Unless otherwise stated, you may not use it without permission.
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