A confident child is a motivated child—motivated to learn, ask questions, and excel in school.
Instilling confidence in students is one of the Delta & Tsawwassen Sylvan Learning Centre’s top priorities, which it achieves by encouraging independent learning.
“We make sure students have all the skills to be independent learners,” says Brianne Kirkby, the centre Director. “We want to give them the necessary skills so when they go back into the classroom, they don’t regress.”
After a first-time student at the Sylvan Learning Centre undergoes an initial assessment, classes are set at a level that’s challenging, but achievable.
It may mean a Grade 6 student struggling with certain concepts is brought down to a Grade 5 level, where they can form a stronger foundation and slowly build from there.
“We don’t want them to consistently experience failure,” says Kirkby. “This is what they’re already dealing with at school. For anybody, a child or adult, there’s only so many times you’ll be told you’re wrong before you give up trying. Taking it back to their level and filling in the gaps—this is what instills confidence.”
Tutors at the learning centre refrain from asking leading questions, encouraging students to work independently, and arming them with the tools to do so in the classroom. Having a student realize they can learn by themselves or solve a problem on their own if the teacher’s occupied, is invaluable for their confidence.
“We have a token system,” says Kirkby. “Any time a student does something or improves on something, they receive a token that has value at our Sylvan store. They’re able to buy things like games and movie tickets. Good habits are always being reinforced so they feel good about learning.”
Kirkby says this reinforcement—and the coinciding confidence it instills—encourages students to ask questions when they’re back in the classroom, even without the promise of a token.
“Their behaviour is still being rewarded, both by receiving the help they asked for, and by praise from the teacher,” she says. “They still see a benefit.”