Our grades hold a lot of weight in making it through school. But when is the academic pressure too much?
Academic pressure exists and can destroy our kids’ motivation to learn. We often phrase it as being “competitive” but, with whom are they competing? Especially since colleges have been removing entrance exams, our kids become more susceptible to academic pressure because the university will look more to their grades. As our kids start moving up to another grade and starting another year of homeschool, here are 5 signs of academic pressure to look out for in kids.
1. Extreme perfectionism
It’s every parents’ dream for their kids to become successful. Kids, on the other hand, just want to make their parents happy. When we punish our kids because their grades didn’t reach our expectations (even if by one point), it instills fear in them. Eventually, that fear transforms into atychiphobia — the irrational fear of failure which intensifies the feelings of academic pressure. Kids with extreme perfectionism then place lofty goals and expectations on themselves and do not tolerate mistakes.
Although we don’t see it, they have a tendency to self-punish when they fail. When they make mistakes, approach with patience, and as angry as we are, try to keep a cool head. If we want them to confide in us, the last thing we want our kids to see is us screaming at them and not owning up to it.
2. Academic numbness
The complete opposite of #1, kids sometimes just throw in the towel when the academic pressure’s too much. They lose interest to study and just try their best to offer the bare minimum. You’ll notice that they won’t pay attention in class anymore and if they do, it’s in one ear and out the other. They’ll also not respond much to failure or success which they’ll just shrug off.
3. Disproportionate reactions to mistakes
These are usually explosive or sometimes, they just become limp. Because of the heightened academic pressure, our kids will have little to no tolerance for mistakes. They’ll believe that they won’t be able to take any of those mistakes back, therefore, unable to repair them. Eventually, it’ll lead to the belief that they can’t learn anything either and that they won’t be enough for anyone. It’s why when they make mistakes, we can show them how calmly we can handle them so that they know there’s nothing to panic over.
4. Lack of teamwork
Homeschool sometimes gives our kids group work and those who suffer from academic pressure will hate it. For them, group works take away their sense of control which leads them to realize more mistakes may happen. They’ll often opt for solo work instead or, if they are made to work in a group — they’ll take on all the work instead. We can tell them to be patient but we have to show them that we can be patient and accountable for our mistakes just like they should be too when things go wrong in group work.
5. Crying spells or mental breakdowns
These are more extreme expressions of academic pressure in kids. When the stress gets too much, they crumble under the weight and go into everything with reckless abandon. Sometimes, the spells can last for more than 4 hours, and talking it out won’t help. In their crying state, the best thing we can do is really sit with them and hold them. Don’t say a word. Our kids are pretty fragile at this point so, talking to them might be best reserved for later.
Academic Pressure exists more than ever
Before, our kids would go to tutorial centers to make sure they get into the college of their choice. But with college entrance exams gone, our kids — especially the ones with entrance exams — are pushed harder to perform well because to them, it means they either get into school or live their lives on the street and as a disappointment to us. When it comes to failing grades, we have to remind them that it’s not the end of the world and approach them gently. The world shouldn’t have to spin on grades.