Just like children can make up their minds to be sick, they can make up their minds to do badly at school. Since the time Psychologists started earning their keep in schools, there has been a debate about whether parental ambitions push children to depression by over-pressurising them to succeed or do kids perform badly because they are not being pushed enough by grown-ups. We are lucky to have finally gotten the "spare the rod and spoil the child" adage out of contention for best parenting advice award, but how much pressure is good pressure is a question that still haunts us.
There are myriad reasons why a child does how he does in school. There is no denying that genetically some children will be more blessed than others. But since we can't mess around with that much (yet!) let us turn to other factors. Kids who train in music (either vocal or any instrument) are shown to develop better concentration and generally improve their grades. Of course this result cannot be expected if the child is spending 6 hours daily at school, 4 hours at tuitions, 2 hours on homework and is then started on another hour of music. For such kids, sleep may be all they need for better grades.
Importantly what is happening to many poor performing students at school may be partly the result of LABELLING. According to the ongoing research at Princeton University Department of Psychology, a kid who performs badly at school may react in two ways. One is to assume that he will perform better in the future or conversely to assume that failure will be repeated frequently. The second type of response leads to what is called "learned helplessness". What this means is that the child eventually stops trying and consistently does poorly thereafter. Thus as teachers, parents and significant adults in the life of a child, we must determine that the child is giving his very best to every attempt. If failure does occur, it is important to help the child understand the factors for it and then overcome it before the next attempt. If you tell children "You are lazy" or "You are worthless", they will soon start believing it, and acting it out.
Achievement is more than just genetic intelligence. It is about the right attitude, knowing the trade as well as its tricks and feeling passionate about success. And parents have to share these secrets with their child.