There’s alot of truth in the old maxim, that reading is for the mind what exercise is for the body. Actually it goes for most forms of mental stimulation – whether you’re doing sums, painting pictures or writing essays. And just as an athlete learns to rest and relax their body in order to improve their physical strength, so a good student can learn to take care of their mental health.
This is increasingly difficult for today’s children, for a whole host of reasons. Social media has increased and diversified pressures on young people, and increasingly competitive exams can make the stakes feel higher than ever on results day. To do well at school, taking care of your child’s mental well-being is essential.
Although it receives more and more attention in the media and elsewhere, sometimes the term ‘mental health’ is still understandably murky. It can relate to many aspects of life, and they’re all relevant for improving education. For children, developing a healthy attitude to their school work isn’t just the difference between a pass or a fail, it’s also the difference between a good day at school or a bad one, a glowing report or a concerning one. A happy child is far more likely to do well in school, and there’s little gain in doing well in school if they’re unhappy.
A private tutor is uniquely positioned to analyse and address issues of mental health in a student. There are two key reasons for this: in a classroom, a student will typically be one of up to thirty others, all competing for attention – some more vocally than others. A teacher, no matter how competent and experienced, is rarely able to direct their focus on an individual for more than a few moments at a time. A private tutor offers at least an hour of dedicated one-on-one support. The simple fact of this sustained attention is a huge boon for many. Self-doubt or disinterest, often compounded by a classroom environment, is much more readily overcome with undivided attention and frequent encouragement. A student’s efforts become impactful in this context, and this engenders a crucial relationship between a student and their work: their efforts become valuable, and their attitude matters. Without these parameters in place, its as hard for a student to take pride in their success as it is for them to feel the desire to improve.
The second reason is that a private tutor is never just an educator in the strict, curriculum-bound sense. All good teachers must necessarily bring themselves into their teaching, and it’s no different for a tutor. It follows that private tutors can provide advice and life experience, applicable to the sort of dilemmas and challenges often at the root of mental health. It goes without saying that Cardiff and Vale tutors are always professional, and each parent and student will have their own preferences, but it is not uncommon for a mutual trust and friendship to develop between a student and a tutor, and in this in itself can be incredibly powerful in ensuring a healthy, happy child.
Here are some general tips to encourage a healthy attitude to work and school:
1. Take breaks. Sometimes the pressure to do well in school can make it feel like there’s not time to rest. Let your child have downtime on their own and with friends. This is not only educative in and of itself, but it will make them more responsive to work that follows. Think of an athlete, who has to rest their body regularly to prevent injury.
2. Encourage variety. Fun can be a highly effective weapon in the right hands, rather than just a distraction or a reward. A child’s protests at boring work are often valid. Try to prevent school work from becoming associated with boredom by varying activities and methods.
3. Be candid about willingness to listen to problems. Because mental health isn’t treated the same way as physical ailments, it can be hard to know how we’re supposed to talk about problems. This is as true for adults as it is for children – in fact, they’re often better at it than us! Nonetheless, making it clear that its okay to talk about mental health problems in clear and straightforward language can be a useful way of breaking down possible barriers.Please do get in touch if a Cardiff & Vale Tutor is required.