Achieving highly academically isn’t necessarily about being super bright, as many wrongly assume. I’ve had the advantage of teaching Physics to many bright young people in grammar schools and independent schools over the last couple of decades and I’ve seen young people of average ability, or just above, achieving high examination grades. At the same time, I’ve seen talented teenagers coasting along and ending up with mediocre results or, in some cases, very poor exam grades.
What I’ve discovered is that ‘nurture’ makes a greater impact on young people than ‘nature’. As I’m sure you know, there is a direct correlation between those who achieve highly and certain key aspects of their environment, such as the home situation, the school they attend and what they do on a day-to-day basis.
When it comes to academic achievement, I believe that there are key areas that have significant impact on achieving success and I put those into three broad categories as a means of presenting and explaining what is a rather complex issue and which has many aspects to it. The three areas that I believe make all the difference are: the Support System, action (behaviour) by the student and, finally, academic ability or potential. In this three–part article, I will not be able to go into each area in depth, but I will provide a brief explanation of each.
The Support System
This is the most extensive of the three areas and consists mainly of: the home environment, the school the child attends and any extra tuition support that may be provided. It should be noted that I’ve listed extra tuition support last, after home environment and the school/college. This is because, although extra tuition can have a huge impact on academic success in a given subject, it is less important than the first two. I have written more about aspects of the support system in the past and I will be writing more about it in the future, but I will not be going into too much detail here. What I will say, however, is that the parent can influence this in a significant way. Most parents who really care already do this – both consciously and subconsciously. This is just what we do – period.
Parents do it by finding a good school for their child, having conversations with the child, monitoring their progress, interacting and communicating with key people in their child’s education and, finally, perhaps, finding and paying for additional tuition support where necessary.
There is investment necessary in all these areas and the most impactful of all investments is not money, it is time. Although Excel in Key Subjects – our organisation – provides extra tuition support for which there is a fee payable, it is not the money or how much is paid in schools fees (where the child attends a fee-paying school) or for extra support that has the greatest impact. It is the time invested by the parents in ensuring they research, find the right school and are constantly monitoring, querying and supporting the child all the way that matter most. Finding the right school is only the start. After this has been done, parents then monitor progress, constantly interacting with the school, the teachers and the child. It’s really keeping that conversation going and taking action on key matters that bring success. Clearly, the better the school is, the less the parent may need to do in order to ensure a successful outcome or the more effective the action of the parent is in impacting the child’s success. Finding the right school and then just sitting back does not work. Time investment is where the real nurture comes in and it is less about the money. Most caring parents enjoy the nurturing aspect and we all wish we could spend a lot more time with our children.
The support system is the first of the three and I have explored this to some extent in this article. I will be looking into the other two areas in my next blog article in this series – the second being action and behaviour by the child with the third being the child’s natural academic ability.