In a week that has seen a large proportion of Year 6 undertaking assessments, both in the form of the Kent Test and also Scholarship Assessments for the Senior School, it is pertinent, perhaps, to consider why it is important to encourage children to take on challenges and experience uncertainty, failure even.
Self-esteem is, in many ways, defined by the challenging events and goals that inevitably occur within children’s lives. Some difficult events just happen and must be dealt with, such as the death of a pet. Others are challenging goals that children choose to undertake, for example entering into a Scholarship assessment or taking part in a competition. In either case, however, children tend to judge themselves by how well they manage to cope with the challenges they face. A child’s perception of their success or failure in meeting various life challenges will undoubtedly influence their self-esteem. As parents and teachers, we cannot entirely control the life challenges that our children will face, but we can guide them towards some challenges and away from others. Not every challenge is suitable for everyone; we are all different, with different strengths. One size doesn’t fit all. Our role at School and home is to help our children to gain perspective on the problem solving and coping processes so as not to overreact to failure or underplay success.
As adults who have a relationship of trust with the children in their care, we are in the perfect position to be both a source of comfort and support, as well as a source of knowledge in teaching them how to manage life’s stressors and ways to get through challenges. Exposing your child to stress in small and appropriate doses helps prepare them for later challenges. At SVPS, in our P4L lessons, we give children tools, methods and space to practise their own growth mindset. What was once a potentially unrelentingly negative situation starts to become a more positive experience. As children learn that they can effectively meet life challenges, they become less fearful about entering into challenging situations. Children are then less likely to avoid an opportunity out of fear that they will not succeed and are thus more likely to succeed.
Whether a tables test or the Kent Test; this week we recognise and celebrate the challenges that each and every child courageously faces every day. As the saying goes: One who conquers the sea today is ready to conquer the ocean tomorrow – Matshona Dhliwayo