Why do I love Club Month? I love it because it’s a big chunk of time where I see so many Saxon Math success stories. Kids doing big-for-them things and getting recognized for it. My inbox fills up with pictures of happy kids and I hear amazing stories of moms who see their kids’ abilities grow. As an educator, it does my heart good to know their success stories, and to imagine how rising to a new challenge will affect them over time.
But I know that Club Month (or anytime kids decide to tackle the All-Right or 30-5 Club challenge) can also mean disappointment. Some kids aren’t going to get into a club they choose the first time they try. We all struggle sometimes, and it can be hard to watch your child deal with discouragement.
But there is another reason I love Club Month, and it may surprise you. You see, the work to get into the clubs is so much bigger than Saxon math! The hard work that brings success builds character, but a disappointment can build character, too. And this is where you and I step in to educate in the things that will have the longest-lasting effect on our children.
How our children react to early failures can determine personal success throughout their life. And they need us to help guide their reactions and give them strategies to overcome disappointment. These lessons will help them whether we are talking middle school math, projects at work, relationships–you name it.
So here are five quick ways to encourage your child when they have had a setback.
Listen. Let them vent a little. I am all about encouraging a positive attitude, but sometimes things stink and it’s okay to say it! You don’t have to let them stew in it, but having someone acknowledge that something crummy happened helps to move on.
2. Remind them that everyone struggles. Everyone! No one has been an overnight success, and some great things have come out of previous failures. There’s always something to learn, and helping your student learn something from a failed endeavor goes a long way toward lessening their fear of disappointment over time.
3. Point out past successes or areas of incremental improvement. Did they do more problems than they have done before? Did they master that one concept where they had been struggling? Have their test scores gone up a few points? Those are all successes even if they fell short of an ultimate goal. That is worth celebrating!
4. Encourage a break. Even kids need to step away from the hard effort they have been attempting sometimes. Maybe it’s a break in the moment (like taking a walk or reading a book when math tension runs high). Or maybe it’s a break from the goal itself. Look, if they didn’t make it into one of the clubs this month, that’s fine! I will feature them whether it’s October or April or anywhere in between. Take a minute, take a deep breath, and come back to the challenge when the time is right.
5. Consider new studying or test-taking strategies. It’s possible that not making a goal is a sign that something needs to change. Maybe it would be better to take a test at a different time of day. Maybe the spot where your student is working isn’t as conducive to learning as it could be. Maybe they just need to tweak a few things to achieve their goal. Now is the time to look at the effort from all sides and see where some needed changes might have a better outcome. This is a great opportunity to examine current strategies and try out new ones.
Look, I hate to see disheartened kids as much as I love to see happy ones. But I’ve had enough disappointments of my own to know that good things can come from them. When we teach young people how to deal with frustrations and disappointments, we make them more resilient. I love the fact that you and I are building better math students. But our real legacy will be if we build stronger people. So don’t take a child’s failure as an endpoint. Help them to see it may just be the beginning of something better.
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