Resilience skills to teach primary school pupils

Educators can play a large role in equipping young pupils with the ability to handle failure or challenges well, starting with teaching resilience skills.

Resilience skills can help kids adapt to change, handle conflict, problem-solve, and be undeterred by failure – all important facets to the growth mindset way of thinking. A child’s ability to cope with stressful situations can be taught, it is not innate, meaning it can be a valuable thing to integrate into your classroom.

Resilience skills can play a large part in motivating students as they face challenges that can potentially be daunting, such as:

  • Changing schools or classes
  • Making new friends
  • Moving home
  • Taking tests and exams
  • Bullying
  • Joining new clubs

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How to teach resilience skills

If you want to integrate resilience skills into your teaching methods, there are some things to keep in mind:

Don’t provide the answers

Encourage children to think independently, and this will help them find the answers for themselves both within and outside an academic setting. For example, if a pupil is nervous about trying something new or joining in with a group, don’t offer a solution when discussing it with them (e.g. “well are you going to join in, or are you going to sit out and watch the others?”) Rather, pose the question of how they are going to deal with the situation. Kids that get practice in thinking for themselves will be better equipped to handle social situations and things like tests and exams in the future.

Encourage problem-solving

When presenting a new concept or problem, encourage students to get to grips with it as you go, rather than teaching the concept and testing them on their understanding and retention after the fact. For example, when teaching something new, you could break children into groups or leave them to work independently, and give them five minutes to work on the problem. The answers can then be discussed as a class.

You can also make a point of asking a pupil to explain their thinking or reasoning, either verbally or perhaps by drawing on the board, rather than just praising them or correcting them after they’ve ventured an answer.

Don’t punish failure

When it comes to motivation for students, feeling free to explore new ideas or try new things without fear of being reprimanded is crucial. Not only will this help with grasping new academic concepts, but it can be vital to developing resistance to failure in other aspects as well. Resilient people don’t wallow over failure or beat themselves up, but are well-equipped to deal with challenges.

Psychologist Susan Kobasa reveals there are three characteristics present in a resilient person – challenge, commitment, and control. By creating a classroom environment that encourages children to explore these characteristics, you can help them build valuable resilience skills that will help them thrive in the future.