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should more able kids get more praise?

(31 Posts)
nicosmum Mon 15-Jun-15 21:32:44

My issue actually relates to swimming lessons but wanted to check whether I was being over sensitive or not.

My 4 yo ds recently went up to a new swimming stage. He tries hard but progress for him is slow as he is very skinny and isn't very good at kicking. There are 8 in the class and he is the weakest at swimming.

Every week I sit and lesson to the teacher loudly praising the better swimmers in the group "well done, brilliant" etc and giving them extra attention (they get taken into the deep water, allowed to go first each time etc).

My son has started to feel a bit dejected and saying swimming is too hard and he is the worse in the group etc. Also one of the better swimmers in the group has made some unkind comments about him not being so good but I have told him to ignore her. I just tell my son that people are good at different things and that he should persevere and he'll improve. But I feel sad for him as the teacher never says anything positive to him!

Am I being oversensitive or is it unfair for the teacher to focus praise on the more able kids??

WalkingThePlank Mon 15-Jun-15 21:47:46

My experience is that it is fine/expected that high achievers should be praised in sport but that this is not acceptable when it comes to academic work.

Having said that, my DD is very fortunate. She is the worst swimmer in her class but gets lots of praise for her effort. I really appreciate her teacher doing that.

WalkingThePlank Mon 15-Jun-15 21:50:09

and I don't think you are being not being over sensitive. I'd have a word with the teacher.

Lonecatwithkitten Mon 15-Jun-15 21:50:18

Do you praise him for the effort he puts in? As parents we should praise effort to allow our children to develop endurance in the face of adversity.

nicosmum Mon 15-Jun-15 21:56:32

I do praise him and say well done for effort etc. I just feel sad for him that he's been made to feel so aware that he's the worst in the group and it's affecting his self esteem (even though I try and bolster his confidence). I know it sounds mad but I've even considered asking him to go back down to his old group!

WalkingThePlank Mon 15-Jun-15 22:38:31

I would ask the teacher what he/she can do to help your son's self esteem. That is their role. He shouldn't have to go back a group.

TeenAndTween Tue 16-Jun-15 09:32:10

No, they shouldn't get more praise.

However going first could be a demonstration thing. Let the more able go first so the less able can watch and see how it is done. Also, if they have more than one swimming at a time the going first could be a speed thing. At DD's lessons they are set off in speed order so they don't bunch up and hit each other.

8 in a class sounds a lot for 4 years old though, and if it is going to knock his confidence being the worst, maybe you need to find an alternative?

Can you have a gentle word with the teacher and say he is getting a bit downhearted so could she be a bit more vocal with praise for him?

Yamahaha Tue 16-Jun-15 09:38:08

Children should be praised on effort made not results attained.
For everything really.

Toffeelatteplease Tue 16-Jun-15 09:39:47

Change swimming lessons. No one succeeds without praise.

Children should get praise for doing what they find challenging Not simply for high achievement

BartholomewCrouch Tue 16-Jun-15 09:51:38

If you perform well in anything sport/academic then actually much intrinsic satisfaction and motivation is gained from the awareness that you've won/come top done better than others, and although this should be acknowledged with praise as a good thing, the external praise is actually less significant in self esteem than the awareness of your own success.

However f you find something diffcult, are aware that your own performance is below others, then your intrinsic motivation and satisfaction will be very low and you actually need more external reinforcers such as praise, recognition of effort and encouragement than those performing well.

This rarely occurs.

Reawrds (including praise) are usually given on outcome.

No matter how much schools/tecahers may claim, or try, not to do this, it inevitably happens, unless real conscious recognition of this takes place and systematic steps are put in place.

It seems to be the default human response.

So you are not being unreasonable.

The world sucks when you're not a winner.

BartholomewCrouch Tue 16-Jun-15 09:56:44

Oh and take him out of the lessons.

Take him once a week yourself (if possible) make it fun build his confidence.

He needs to learn how to swim, not compete in swimming galas.

Swimming lessons aren't necessary. Learning it swim is, but can be done in a much more light hearted positive way.

Partly I think we make everything for kids these days into competitive/acheivement orientated activities from music/dance/sport. Some stuff is just for FUN.

Honestly if possible teach him yourself.

PettsWoodParadise Tue 16-Jun-15 12:46:57

DD is an atrocious runner but regularly turns up to lunchtime voluntary cross country club. So much so that her teacher picked her over others who lap her to compete in the inter-school event. Yes she came last but she finished where some didn't and the cheers from the sidelines were amazing. The school teaches an ethos of encouragement and respecting that your peers have strengths where you may not and you will have strength where they do not and it is everyone's job to encourage others. DD academically is top in Maths but doesn't get as many house points for getting all questions right when others get house points for improving on their previous score - it is a hard lesson when you do well (and have tried hard too) but don't get the reward, but then school is about learning to deal with such scenarios and being gracious in victory and trying to beat yourself - not others next time round of struggling.

It does sound OP as though the teacher could give some more encouragement. A motivational teacher can make all the difference - I know that is the case for my DD and running. However for Maths she has learnt to motivate herself and doesn't rely on outside reward so lack of praise isn't 100% bad with you there to guide and teach about self motivation too.

blink1552 Tue 16-Jun-15 21:52:45

I think it's bad of the teacher.

My DD was a bit of a weakling and has always been the slowest swimmer in her group, but she has also usually been the smallest. To pass her badges she has to do the technique, not race her classmates. Her teachers are encouraging and praise her technique and attitude.

I think she might learn to swim quicker somewhere else, but no way would I move her because her lessons are gentle and positive, and she enjoys them. That is worth so much.

enigmacode Tue 16-Jun-15 22:16:51

nicosmum
do not feel sad. DS is and has always been the worst swimmer in his class. He never got any praise from teachers - lots from us - although now in senior school he is given an "excellent" in effort. He now laughs about it and has learnt to get self-esteem from the things where he does stand out.
Your DS will grow and learn to do exactly the same.

AChickenCalledKorma Wed 17-Jun-15 09:00:29

Sports teachers who genuinely enourage the less able children seem to be a bit rare - presumably because they are, by definition, the ones who were strong at sport themselves so are really drawn to sporting success. And also, most of them won't have had much training in teaching techniques.

In your place, I'd have a word with the teacher and point out that he's getting discouraged and see if anything changes. If not, maybe try a different one.

Also, coming at it from a different angle, I am the parent of a child who was a very skinny four year old, who struggled with swimming. She couldn't kick very hard and she had no natural buoyancy whatsoever, so she just kept sinking.

We took a break, swam a bit as a family and started lessons again at seven. By then, she had the strength to kick and pull harder and make huge progress. She's 12 now. She'll never be a competitive swimmer as she's not very fast, but she still takes swimming lessons every week because she loves it. Her technique is really good and she is very proud of her 800m and Gold Challenge badges!

Heels99 Wed 17-Jun-15 13:19:00

Sounds like he doesn't enjoy it, take him swimming yourself as well as the lessons to bring the fun back into it.
You did mention he has gone up a group so you would expect him to be amongst the weaker ones. Your child won't be top every time! That's a tough lesson for kids to learn especially for a four year old. I would emphasise how well he has done to go up a group and I would focus on the effort e.g trying hard, concentrating, listening, kicking hard etc and praise him for those things.

TheNumberfaker Wed 17-Jun-15 13:21:39

Praise the effort, not results. Speak to the teacher or move!

Millymollymama Wed 17-Jun-15 15:06:11

Dame Tanni Grey is recommending that children are tested in sport! She is arguing they are tested academically, so why not in sport? She obviously does not understand about children who are not top achievers and acquire self esteem issues if they continually fail. Sports teachers just want everyone to be like them and frequently ignore those who are not. Having said that, a swimming teacher is not a qualified teacher and will possibly not understand about how to encourage and motivate less sporty children. However, this is what is needed and I would talk to the teacher. If they cannot understand why their style of teaching does not meet the needs of all the children, I would find another class or try again when he is a bit older. Mum of non sporty children here!!!

WalkingThePlank Wed 17-Jun-15 22:11:22

I agree that children should be tested in sports/fitness. It is the only way to ensure that teachers but the effort in with the less able.

When it comes to literacy/maths it is generally unacceptable to focus on only the gifted children. If anything, the focus is on ensuring that the less able achieve a minimum standard. These children wouldn't be told they are stupid or ignored, they would be encouraged and praised for their effort.

Can you imagine how great it would be if PE teachers focussed their efforts on ensuring that the less sporty reached a minimum standard and encouraged and praised effort?

I'm also aware of disabled children being excluded from PE when a little imagination could facilitate their inclusion. I'm sure that inclusion would improve if schools were assessed on their pupil's fitness.

WalkingThePlank Wed 17-Jun-15 22:11:22

I agree that children should be tested in sports/fitness. It is the only way to ensure that teachers but the effort in with the less able.

When it comes to literacy/maths it is generally unacceptable to focus on only the gifted children. If anything, the focus is on ensuring that the less able achieve a minimum standard. These children wouldn't be told they are stupid or ignored, they would be encouraged and praised for their effort.

Can you imagine how great it would be if PE teachers focussed their efforts on ensuring that the less sporty reached a minimum standard and encouraged and praised effort?

I'm also aware of disabled children being excluded from PE when a little imagination could facilitate their inclusion. I'm sure that inclusion would improve if schools were assessed on their pupil's fitness.

Tequilashotfor1 Wed 17-Jun-15 22:15:47

I teach swimming and most of my colleagues heap praise on our swimmers - so you need to have a word with the teacher.

They should be given praise for listening, looking, being sensible, following instruction ect.... So there is always somthing to to give praise for.

ReallyTired Fri 19-Jun-15 09:42:39

Moving up a swimming stage can be a challenge and its a bit of a judgement call to say if a child is ready. Some children thrive on the challenge of being the weakest where as others really need to be in the middle of the class.

Its common to allow the stronger swimmers to go first so that they don't have to overtake the weaker swimmers. As far as taking children into deeper water would your son be ready for that. Could he be taken into deeper water wearing a armbands or a float belt?

I suggest you give your son small managable goals. Tell him not to worry about speed, its not a priority at four years old. Some of the "fast" swimmers may only be fast because they keep putting their feet down and pushing off from the floor of the pool. If a child develops good technique then the speed will look after itself.

With the kicking your son will get more power if he kicks from the hip rather than bending the knees. There are some good youtube videos that explain how to kick more efficently. Kicking efficently would make your son less tired and faster. It might be helpful to get him to lie on a bed and practice his kicking on dry land at home.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4QjubHp8Zw

notinminutenow Fri 19-Jun-15 10:59:16

Tell him well done for being patient and having a good attitude at swimming lessons. Then find him a new class.

Agree with the others - the effort should be praised not just the ability. This stuff impacts later on. I am not anti competition and I recognise that we can't all be good at everything but I have an 11 year old who spent too long being patient at sports day, at swimming etc... Still working everyday on building his confidence.

Find another class! Good luck.

ragged Fri 19-Jun-15 11:09:44

Good teachers tell kids off if they hassle anyone who isn't very good. I would want the teacher to be made aware that those kind of comments were being made & putting my son off. A good teacher will be very concerned.

And yes, praise for effort!

nattarji Fri 19-Jun-15 11:14:08

Praise should be given for effort across the board
The most talented swimmers should be praised for effort /listening more than ability
This ensures they don't develop that mentality where the first time they get beaten they fall apart.
I agree 8 sounds a lot and I'd speak to the teacher - if no joy find a new group.

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