Confidence, or lack of it, governs every action we take during our lives. Our thinking, decision-making, relationships with those we meet and attitudes towards the tasks we undertake, are all governed by our confidence. We, the parents and the teachers are best placed to create the conditions for building children’s confidence. This is to support children to have high self-esteem, to try new activities and feel a sense of pride in their accomplishments.
Encouragement and praise
How can you do that as a parent or teacher? An effective way is to accentuate the efforts and achievements of pupils, to “catch children doing things right”. Consider emphasising the tasks that have been done well. When listening to children reading, point to the words that are correct, and then the corrections. If some words or sounds are proving difficult to learn, try making those into a game to give high repetition and an enjoyable experience to the learner. From time to time it’s valuable to discuss the skills and the knowledge that children have achieved, and to talk through how they can improve the areas they need to. This accentuates the positive.
Confidence can increase potential
As an adult I went with my friends after work to a keep fit class. I clearly remember the PE teacher coming alongside me as I was doing another press up and he said to me, “Well done”. Here I was, a mature adult feeling so good and trying even harder. It was a lesson I will remember.
It is most interesting to watch professional sportsmen, in rugby, cricket and football and to see the improvement in their play when they are confident, it is most marked. The confidence seems to increase their potential, their play is more fluid. There is a saying among those who are interested in these matters, “As is confidence, so is capacity”.
Success breeds success
William Murray, who wrote the Peter and Jane series, said that sometimes the thrill of success can lead a child into continually re-reading the first book mastered. A teacher in his school said that one of his pupils took her Key Words 1a book home to show off her reading progress. She told the teacher the next day with shining eyes, “I read it to my mum and she was so hexcited I read it to my dad and he was so hexcited I read it to my auntie and she was so hexcited I read it to my brother and he was so excited!”
It’s good to encourage and to give time and recognition of success. Success breeds success, and I learned long ago that the Key Words with Peter and Jane series, which is so carefully constructed, gives the best possible chance to children to learn successfully.
So let’s celebrate achievements and build strong future adults by building children’s confidence. As William Murray said, “The first steps should be easy, learned in a happy atmosphere, and effort rewarded with praise and encouragement.”