When learning something new it can be incredibly useful to find out what works from people who are already successful in that field.
The flip side of that is, you can also learn a lot from people who haven’t done so well…
Success (or not) at school is a great example of this.
Not surprisingly, kids who do well at school normally have very similar attitudes towards studying and doing their schoolwork, while kids who don’t do so well also have a number of things in common.
Over the years we’ve noticed two common traits of students who achieve poor results at school.
If your teen has one or both of these traits we hope that by sharing these insights with you, you can nip them in the bud as soon as possible.
1. They have no confidence in their ability to do well at school
If a student has an underlying belief that they aren’t all that good at school, it’s going to be very difficult for them to get an A.
Their subconscious mind will stop them from trying hard, they’ll stop themselves from putting their hands up in case they’re wrong, and they’ll second guess themselves when trying to answer anything.
As tutors, we constantly see students who know the answers but are afraid to write them down. They always ask, “Do I do this next? And then this? I’m not sure…” They need constant reassurance that they’re not about to make a mistake before they attempt to answer.
Is that the answer?! What if I’m wrong? Panic! Give up…
Sound familiar? If so how can you help your teen overcome their lack of confidence?
Firstly — your teen may just need a bit of encouragement.
It’s amazing how much of an affect knowing someone believes in you has. When your teen knows that you’re 100% behind them no matter what, they’ll be more confident in their own abilities and be more likely to give school and studying their their best effort.
As parents we can be more constructive than a simple, “you can do it!”. You taking a genuine interest in your teen’s subjects and actively helping them with homework and assignments (even if you don’t understand it fully!) will be proof of your support, and contribute to boosting their confidence in a powerful way.
Secondly — practice makes perfect.
Anyone can succeed at high school if they put their minds to it, and if they have the right study tools. As we’ve said many times, studying is a learnt skill that anyone can learn, practice, and master.
Your teen may simply need to put in more time and effort into school; practice their math problems, write mock essays, make study notes, get comfortable with what’s required of them.
Maybe they just need to get the ball rolling, then they’ll see that in fact they ARE capable of studying and getting good grades when they put the work in.
And this leads us nicely onto trait number two…
2. They think all that studying involves is staring at textbooks
But in fact there are an endless number of study techniques that high school students (and in fact any student) can use to help them process, understand, retain and recall information. Your teen’s goal while they’re studying should ultimately be to figure out what study techniques work for them. We call this their unique Study Formula.
Your teen might struggle to remember more than two words if all they do when they ‘study’ is sit down and read a bland textbook. But what happens when the exact same information is presented in a more palatable format, say in a video or a visually appealing diagram? Their recall is likely to be massively improved.
Understanding what Learning Styles help your teen study most effectively will help them figure out what study techniques they should be utilizing.
If they haven’t already, get your teen to find out their predominant Learning Style via our Learning Styles Quiz.
Understanding how they best study could transform your teen’s attitude towards school and studying from unmotivated and disheartened to encouraged and hard-working. Studying may no longer be perceived as a pointless task, but an important part of your teen’s overall success at school.
As you can see, these two common traits of high school students who aren’t reaching their academic potential have absolutely nothing to do with ‘intellectual capacity’ (whatever that means…). So while it is of course frustrating that so many students lack confidence in their ability at school, we can at least look at positive side of this — that something can be done about it!
There’s absolutely no need for your teen to achieve anything but their best at school. A confidence boost and some smart study techniques could be all that’s needed to help your teen get the grades they’re capable of.
Image Credit: Hanz Gerwitz