Managing expectations is one of the most important lessons for a parent to teach their child in many different areas of life, be it people relations or in their studies. The easiest way to start would be by regulating their academic practices and applying the same skills elsewhere later.
Taking into consideration each child’s individual learning style, which affects the way they learn and comprehend issues, some key principles to adhere to would be being clear and consistent, having smooth transitions and regular reviews.
Being clear and consistent is a key to maintaining and abiding by set milestones. Breaking up long-term goals of going to university or even grades to achieve for national examinations into stepped short-term goals makes them more achievable and less intimidating to children who might otherwise be reluctant to attempt their best efforts. Stepped short-term goals could include term and class tests, or even paced practice such as in the form of assessment materials delivered regularly.
Smooth transitions are also very important in making sure that each activity and the next are purposeful, and allows children to understand the flow of work and how it contributes to the overall picture. When assigning practice problems to a child to work on, choose topics or skills that tie in and has a clear flow. Try a succession of difficulty in terms of the skillset required for the problems. In terms of Mathematics, start the child off with basic foundational practice such as straightforward, single-topic questions, and moving on to multiple-level or even cross-topical questions which requires mixing different topics into the same question.
Regular review allows an understanding of recent experiences and the chance to adjust goals. Goals may not always be relevant and children should be taught to constantly modify their expectations according to the current situation. If a goal is to score an A for a class but the child has been scoring an average of Bs, share the disappointment but not dwell on it, think about where it went wrong and how it could be done better in the future. Perhaps revision should be started earlier in the year, or a different method of learning would be more suitable. Hence, regular updates and feedback on a child’s progress is very important in charting the progress of the child, and in setting realistic expectations.
Realistic expectations are not goals that are easily reached or too challenging. The best goals are those which are feasible; within the reach of the child but yet, stretches their abilities, to allow them the confidence to face other challenges in life.