Be the first to know about all our deals and promos
Join our super-secret email club
How Do I Set Realistic Learning Expectations For My Child?

How Do I Set Realistic Learning Expectations For My Child?

Whether we voice them out or not, and whether we realise it or not, we all have expectations for our children. These expectations can be us expecting them to try their best, follow instructions, pay attention, participate, do their homework, achieve certain goals and behave well. Today we are going to focus on achieving goals. Many parents make the mistake of setting expectations that are too high or too early for their children. This can lead to children becoming disinterested in learning and, of course, disappointment. So how should parents set learning expectations for their children?
First, it is important to understand how expectations work. The Oxford dictionary describes the word expectation as “A belief that someone will or should achieve something.”. John A. Johnson Ph.D. says “my research on moral psychology tells me that expectations among people are often based on an implicit social contract. That is, without actually verbalizing expectations… people construct stories in their heads about legitimate expectations of each other. So, people …have a ‘deal’ in which the specifics of the deal are never really talked about.” Sometimes it is important to consult qualified counsel, and of course, the person expected to carry out this expectation before setting expectations.

Before making expectations concerning the rate of your child’s progression through a certain course, it is advised that you consult the teacher/tutor giving your child lessons and also speak to your child to find out how they feel about the course. The teacher/tutor can then adequately give you an estimate based on their knowledge, experience and what they are observing from the current performance of your child. The conversation with your child can give you an idea of how your child sees their work in the course.
Are they confident? Do they enjoy doing the course? Do they enjoy learning in general? Are they happy with the current pace they are learning at or do they want to speed things up or slow things down a little? How do they usually perform in school or other courses? This will give you an idea of what to expect. You will now know whether you should have low, medium or high expectations for the progress of your child in the course or subject.

Stefania Romanini, a counselling psychologist, said that a research released by the American Psychological Association (APA) found that when parents set high expectations for their children’s academic attainment, children tend to do better in school, except for when those hopes or expectations are unrealistic or unattainable, in which case children may not do well in school. “...putting too much pressure on a child can lead to increased feelings of anxiety and can negatively impact their sense of self-worth, especially when they are not able to meet these expectations,” said Romanini.
Romanini believes that the key is to gain a clear understanding of your child’s abilities and strengths and encourage them to reach their potential and nurture their strengths.
“Furthermore, setting goals with your child instead of for your child will allow them to take ownership over their lives as well as allow them to feel more supported. This should also include making them aware that mistakes and setbacks are a normal part of life and that these will be accepted and not criticised”

In addition, Romanini suggests that the learning process be emphasized as opposed to the outcome. “Let us not forget that childhood is not merely about achieving, but about learning, exploring, growing, and understanding the world”. A study released at the end of March this year by the APA found that parental expectations on kids “contributes to many psychological conditions, including depression, anxiety, self-harm and eating disorders.” Thomas Curran Ph.D., the lead researcher of the study proposes focusing on learning and development instead of just test scores. This also means paying attention to whether or not your child actually understands the work and not pushing them to the next level until they do.

How to keep expectations realistic

  1. Do regular checkups - consistently check in with your child’s progress and position in their learning journey. If they are further than expected, then you can possibly adjust the expectations up. If they are falling behind the expectations, then you could possibly look at adjusting them down and identifying where your child can improve. This can be monitored by setting milestones and little goals along the journey to the end goal.
  2. Communicate with your child and their teacher/tutor - your child and their teacher can both help you set realistic expectations because your child knows how they truly feel while learning, and their teacher most likely knows the intellectual level and abilities of your child.
  3. Focus on development - sometimes we can get carried away with titles of courses and grades, or the names of schools children are in. Regardless of course, grade, level or school, the most important thing is that your child is developing and improving day by day.
  4. Work together - once realistic expectations have been set, work in unison with your child and their teacher to ensure that your child meets these expectations. Likewise, if realistic expectations are still not met, work together to find out why that is the case and how improvements can be made in the future.
  5. Use past performance as a guide - past performance is not always a forecast of what is to come but it can be useful in gauging how your child could perform. Try to match your expectations with how your child has performed in past courses, grades, school levels or extracurricular activities.
Unrealistic expectations can have really damaging consequences on children such as emotional distress, anxiety, depression and the feeling of inadequacy. On the flip side, realistic expectations can yield good fruit such as higher self-esteem, positivity and a strong inclination to learning and achievement.

At Itgenio we strive to help you set realistic expectations for your child and use their strengths and interests to contribute to their personal development. Have a look at the courses on our website and pick a course that would realistically suit your child.
Sign up for
a free trial class !
By filling out the form, you agree with the
privacy policy and accept the public offer agreement
If you liked the article, kindly share it with others!
Read more of our articles