Latest news and updates for our Kuala Lumpur Young Learner parents - May 2016

Seniors Photography competition

There is still time for students to enter the Seniors Photography competition. Entries close 29th of May and are open to any student enrolled in LS or US classes. Students should ask their teacher for more details on the competition.

Primary Plus online portal

The activities for Topic 4 are live on the Primary Plus portal and students can log in and start them at any time. The activities are a great way to practise the language covered in class and the students can earn badges for completing the activities, then unlock the Shaun the Sheep videos to watch online. Go to Primary Plus portal and help your child log in today.

Collection of children after class

We have had an increase in the number of children who are being left to wait for parents after class. Please remember that all children with pink tags must be collected from the classroom by a family member over the age of 14. Please make sure you are in the centre at least 15 minutes before class ends and are ready to collect your child on time. Severe consequences may result if you regularly fail to collect your child on time.

Parent workshops

This term, the theme of our parent workshops is Developing resilient learners and is appropriate for parents with children of all ages. Workshops take place in room 17 from 1:20-2:00 and space is limited so we recommend parents arrive on time to get a seat. There will also be a film showing in room 18 for children to watch while parents attend the talk.

The first parent workshop, which was in week 4 (23rd and 24th April) was on the topic of Becoming an independent learner and was very popular with parents. More details on what was discussed in the workshop can be found below.

The second workshop, in week 8 (28th and 29th May) will be on the topic of Developing a growth mindset. In this workshop we will review some of the core ideas we learned in the first workshop this term, explore what a growth mindset is, how it can help children in their studies and personal lives, and how parents can support development of a growth mindset.

Becoming and independent learner workshop summary

Definition of key terms:

Self-concept: Our idea of who we are

Self- image: Who we see ourselves as (e.g. smart, pretty, funny)

Self-esteem: How good at things we think we are.

Self-efficacy: How well we are able to use our knowledge and skills.

Sense of agency: The feeling of being in control of your life.

Locus of control: Whether you feel you are in control of the events in your life.

Locus of causality: Whether you feel you are responsible for the things that happen to you.

Why is independence important?

Helping your child become independent can be a challenge for many parents, because often the advice to develop independence goes directly against our desire to protect our children, but it is key in helping them become the best learners and people they can be. Developing independence is also important as it can have positive effects on confidence and self-esteem at a time when children are just developing these ideas about themselves.

What psychological factors affect independence?

There are two key areas to developing independence:

  • A strong self-concept, particularly in relation to self-esteem and self-efficacy. A strong sense of self-efficacy is important because it affects how much time and effort we put into something. The development of self-concept is affected by social relationships, particularly feedback from important people in a child’s life.
  • A strong sense of agency allows children to feel that they are the locus of control and the locus of causality in their life. In other words, they feel in control of the events in their life and have a sense of responsibility over the things that happen to them. A strong sense of agency helps children to feel that if they have done badly at something, they are able to take control and do something to improve the next time.

What happens in children who haven’t developed independence?

Children who don’t develop a strong sense of agency and/or self-concept may develop several issues that can affect their learning.

Learned helplessness is the feeling that the child cannot do anything by themselves. Children with learned helplessness may have poor self-esteem and are likely to give up easily. They may also have a poor sense of agency and not feel in control of their lives.

Self-worth concern means that children will try to avoid doing something they are not good at to protect their self-esteem. Children with self-worth concern will likely have good self-esteem in some areas, but poor self-efficacy. Teachers may notice that these children have behavioural problems when they are asked to do something that they are not good at so they can avoid trying.

What can you do?

  • Encourage children to take responsibility for their own school supplies, toys or clothing. Make them responsible for keeping a list of the things they need to take to school every day, ask them to pick up their toys after playing, or fold and put away their own clothes (they may not do as good a job as an adult, but they will get better over time!)
  • Encourage them to estimate the amount of time and effort they will need to spend on their homework. This can help them develop self-efficacy because they will have a sense of how much time and effort they need to put in.
  • Talk about their attitude towards learning. Do they believe they can get better? Do they give up easily? What strategies do they use to help them learn?
  • Talk about their strengths and weaknesses in the classroom. Most children have no problem talking about their strengths, but may feel threatened when asked about their weaknesses. Talking about these openly as a family can help children develop a sense that an area of difficulty is something to improve, not be ashamed of.
  • Think about ways to improve areas they are weak at. This could follow on from the previous discussion to show that thinking about areas of difficulty can lead to a path of improvement.
  • Give useful feedback about your child’s learning. Rather than just saying “Well done!”, try saying “I like…. about your work. You worked hard on this”. Focusing on a particular strength can help them identify what they are good at and what they need to improve.
  • Give rewards for activities they are resisting or avoiding (but not for activities they already enjoy!). Rewarding children for activities they enjoy can make them enjoy them less!
  • Encourage your child to self-evaluate – How did they do? Why did they do well/ not so well? What successful strategies did they try? What could they do next time?

Reference: Williams, M and Burdon, R.L., Psychology for Language Teachers. 2010, Cambridge University Press

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And finally, did you know that...

  • The British Council supports initiatives to find solutions to conflict around the world. For example, the British Council’s language programme is broadcast on 12 local radio stations across the West Bank and Gaza, reaching more than 400,000 young Palestinians.
  • The British Council’s Active Citizens programme supports ground-roots organisations looking to improve community engagement by young people. It has already trained 130,000 young people in social leadership, promoting intercultural dialogue and community-led social development.
  • The British Council often works in partnership with local organisations to improve education outcomes for children. For example, The British Council has collaborated with the Malaysian Ministry of Education and the Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology to promote engagement in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) in Malaysian schools through the School Lab competition. Winning schools were recently announced and shared in RM20,000 worth of prizes for their entries. For more information about the School Lab competition and to view the presentations of the finalists, click here.