Beyond the Conventional Practice

During our initial session, Rebecca, 42, was desperate to know what kind of learning activities to do with her daughter, Katy. She wanted to ensure that Katy would sit with her and do extra work outside school. I had plenty of material but there was much more to discuss.

Rebecca had always been a high achiever when she was at school and throughout her studies. The academic world was the natural one for her. She loved learning whether it was Maths or languages. She was passionate about it and that is why she had no problem with discipline. When her daughter started school, Rebecca thought Katy would be just like her. Curious and scholastic. She soon found out that assumption was a big mistake. Katy disliked school. It was not that Katy wasn’t clever, rather simply not ‘academic’. She felt pressured and disengaged with the teaching. She fell behind, helpless and unsupported, but when her Mum offered help with school work, Katy would stubbornly refuse. It seemed to be a vicious circle.

It wasn’t until Rebecca had fully understood what a hard time Katy had been having that she was able to reach her. She had to go the extra mile, because achieving at school was such a foregone conclusion for her and initially she couldn’t relate to her daughter’s struggle. She found out that listening and acknowledging Katy’s feelings first was more effective than merely insisting on better academic results. I encouraged Rebecca to validate her children’s feelings by asking questions about their experience. Validating how the children are experiencing an event, even if it’s very different to how the parent is experiencing it, can be life-changing but it’s a skill that needs to be practised. For more information please look at the books by Dr Dan Hughes or Dr Dan Siegel.

To this end, setting relevant boundaries is equally important. I discussed with Rebecca how to engage Katy with the schoolwork, and of course, all the interesting creative material I could offer.

‘It’s fantastic. I so appreciate your help. I am often trying just to convince. Now, I see I have to be more patient.’

For more information about our programmes, please go to and or call 07786 628820 to discuss your child’s learning needs.