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10 Steps to Prepare for A Math Olympiad

If you have aspirations to do well in the Indian Maths Olympiad and learn how to work smart not hard. We have put together a small list of tricks to help you improve your preparation skills. While these are helpful tips nothing replaces perseverance and a lot of practice. 

1. Know the Syllabus

This might seem obvious and not at all a tip but not understanding the importance of each topic can be detrimental to your preparation. The Maths Olympiad syllabus is vast and questions will come from a range of different topics knowing the most and least important is allotting time to your topics. 

2. Understand the Level

This is not a standard school exam. A more in depth learning of each concept with a higher level of theoretical and practical knowledge is required. Learn more about the topic and gain more insight if needed. 

3. Visit Olympiad Website

If this is your first time doing the Olympiad or if there have been any rule changes make sure you visit the website and know the when and whats of the Maths Olympiad.

4. The Internet Will be A Helping Hand

The internet can be your friend if you utilize it the best, you can find helpful information across platforms whether it is Youtube videos or sites that offer practice tests. The information or techniques on how to solve difficult maths problems can be the crux of you saving time. 

5. Use Time Effectively

Time is crucial in your preparation being effective, starting your preparation well in advance will only make your performance better. Develop a time table and divide your time to practice all the topics thoroughly.

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6. Stick to a Schedule

It is extremely important that you stay motivated and stick to your timetable prepared for your Maths Olympiad. Nobody is perfect but this is a step in the right direction. Re-adjust your time table if you have to cover any backlog of work. 

7. Practice makes Perfect

Practice till you become perfect or till you meet the expectations that you have set for yourself. Every question and exercise can be practiced and perfected. 

8. Online Tests are Important

Testing yourself with online and physical tests and in a timely manner will help you prepare for the issues you might encounter during the Olympiad. 

9. Get A Teacher’s Opinion

Remember at the end of the day your teachers are most likely to be your best resources form information and they understand your strengths and weaknesses well from teaching you. Taking notes from your teacher’s advice will help your performance substantially. 

10. Stay Calm

Stress will only cloud your judgment during an Olympiad. Find out what helps you relieve stress whether it is deep breaths going for a walk or having some tea. It is just another test, do not let the pressure play into your emotions. 

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7 Ways to Teach Children about Failure

Most kids are afraid to fail because they are not taught about the benefits of it. As a child you also see your parents try to shield you from failing because they want to protect us. If we realise that failure is good and is a step in the right direction. Failure is a necessary component of success and not the other way around. In Fact, our brains grow and develop when a failure occurs.

When you as parents think about your biggest challenges what do you remember about the lessons it taught you. It must have made you courageous and wise which is crucial in the path to success because there is no improvement like learning and adapting from your mistakes. The reason parents try to shield their children from failure is that they have felt the pain and they always want the best for their children so they try to avoid it at all costs. What if you are able to show your child it is a learning moment? The best lesson you can give your kids is the one that prepares them for the real world. 

1. Focus on A Growth Mindset

As we have learnt a growth mindset empowers children to use all situations to learn. It also changes their reaction to failure. 

A recent study by Developmental Cognitive Science shows that after making a mistake children with growth mindsets show a larger brain response than children with a fixed mindset. While failure is unavoidable, but by focusing their attention on what went wrong and which steps they could have taken to fix, children with growth mindsets can turn negative experiences into positive learning moments. 

Children with growth mindsets are also more likely to improve their performance as a result.

2. Let Failure Occur

As a child, I have always recognised that my parents have tried to stop me from making the same mistakes as them but experiencing failure has changed me for the better. It teaches children that failure is not the end-all, one failure does not define them. This allows them to bounce back much faster and not let their failures define them. 

Sometimes experiencing challenges is the only way to develop certain problem-solving skills and coping mechanisms. I understand that it is very difficult for parents to allow their children to fail but ask yourself some questions, will my child learn from this situation if I step back and allow the situation to unfold? Failure is not fatal and these learning moments will help your child and you.

3. Celebrate Failure

Failure is a student’s best teacher. So why not celebrate every opportunity where failure could be an opportunity to learn?

Introduce “Failure Fridays” once every Friday. Let the child read and learn about a famous person who failed and how they learnt and bounced back.

Each day focus on a good mistake that your child has made and ask them to think about what went wrong and what they think they could have done to solve it.

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4. Understand ‘The Learning Pit’

The highs in life are especially rewarding when you have had the lows that have made you stumble. Created by James Nottingham, ‘The Learning Pit” is a simple and effective framework that shows the importance and learning from stumbles. 

When faced with a difficulty, all of us must voyage into ‘the pit’ of uncertainty. Thoughts like “I have failed” or “I’m stuck” are just clues that deeper thinking and learning are happening within your mind. Teaching children about the ‘pit’ metaphor makes it a part of the daily vocabulary. Then the most important thing is to teach them how to get out of the ‘pit’ by persevering and staying committed to achieving their goals.

5. Explain How The Brain Works

If you make your children aware of the fact that the brain learns and grows from mistakes, will that not rewire a child’s perception of the consequences of making mistakes?

 I believe that children are constantly worried about failing and being perfect while those are good aspirations and if they understand that getting things wrong will then help them retain it better it will be a new way for them to evolve their learning. A child’s best friend is knowledge and information they will surprise you more than you think they will give them that chance. 

6. Emphasize Learning From Mistakes

There is a business concept called ‘failing forward’ which in essence means learning from your mistakes. Failing is as inevitable as it is valuable. Focusing on the positive aspects of the mistake can make it a more fruitful experience for the child. As parents the best thing a parent can do for their child is be there for them when they make a mistake and show them the right way to get through their errors.

7. Teach the Mindful Approach

Even with these strategies, failure can overwhelm the child. Training kids to take a mindful approach is helpful in getting through hard emotions like sadness and anger. 

The relationship between mindfulness and resilience is well established. The RAIN technique created by Michelle McDonald, is an interesting way for kids to notice and acknowledge their feelings. 

Here are the four steps:

R-Recognize what is happening (Understand what your body and brain is experiencing)

A-Allow life to be just as it is (Not all feelings are detrimental some can stay the way they are)

I-Investigate with kindness (Understand why you are feeling this way)

N-Non-Identification (The thought or emotion does not define me)

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5 Ways to Make Your Child A Team Player

Being a team player may be something we only associate with playing sports but now as workspaces and companies evolve it is becoming evident that people are going to be working in teams moving forward. A team is increasingly becoming the way in which companies operate and achieve the best results and efficiency. Therefore to prepare your child for the real world they must know how to thrive in a team environment. 

1 – Teach Respect

Being a team player means being conscious and thoughtful to other team members. You should teach children the importance of listening to and understanding people who hold a place of authority. Explain to them that the way they behave and present themselves is their way of showing their respect to their team. If a child makes a mistake that holds back the team and shows no remorse then it shows a lack of respect to the team. Respect is hard to earn back once it has been lost. 

2. Provide opportunities

A child will only understand what it means to be a team player when they are given the chance to become one. If your child enjoys sports or has an interest in being a part of any team, be it a band or any place where people of similar ages come together to achieve the same goal then encourage them to participate. If your child enjoys debate make then do Model United Nations and if your child enjoys organising things there is no beginning like being a part of the student council. These opportunities are essential and are a huge part of the joys that a child takes away from his time at school. 

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3. Model the right behavior

I believe that parents have more control over their child’s education rather than a teacher because the child spends all their time with their parents when they are not at school. I really appreciate how much my parents set the right example for me because however smart children can be, their attitude to anything is set by how they see their parents behave. If you want your child to respect something or someone it is crucial for you to do the same thing. If your child sees you lose your temper or not show respect to their extra curricular activities or the people involved then they will model the same behaviour.

4. Respect the Rules at All Times

A team player is someone who follows the rules both on and off the playground. Encourage your child to do what their manager or coach tells them to do, they should never miss out on the obligations that they make. When a team member follows the rules, they are seen as dependable and trustworthy. They are then seen as people that coaches can look to and never have to worry about.

5. Accept criticism

Nothing is easy in life. Being on a team is hard, there could be better people on the team and the kid may have a difficult time coping. The best thing your child can learn about is how to accept criticism from coaches, players, and even themselves. Make your child understand how criticism is way to them better. When we accept it, it shows that we value the opinions of others and we want to become that version of ourselves. It is key that you teach your children while they are young to be a team player and someone everyone can rely upon.

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5 Steps to Improve Your Child’s Organisation skills

Organisation is crucial to a child being successful in the long term because it sets up their habits and routines for years to come. An organised person allows themselves to be more efficient with their time and they are able to find a balance between work and fun. For a child while studying and learning are extremely important it would be unfair to forget having fun and enjoying themselves. Therefore I believe that children should work smart not just work hard because they deserve to enjoy their childhood and experience the joys of being young. A few ways and steps that I have personally been trying to improve my organisational skills are what I will share with you and as a college student I wish I had been more open at a younger age to be more organised. 

Step 1 – Maintain a Daily Routine

A daily routine plain and simply means making sure that you start your day off the same way consistently so your body has a system that it follows with adding an obstacle for you to tackle. Consistency is the key to student success and while sticking 100% to your routine is impossible but the framework will allow you to stay focused and on track.

Step 2 – Have a Planner or Diary

Use a planner because let us face the facts none of us are perfect and we are prone to make mistakes so why not use a failsafe to stop us from repeating those forgetful mistakes. A planner helps you keep track of your deadlines and progress with the task that you need to complete. It is as simple as just planning what you need to do in one day. The best thing is it will allow you to manage your time and stress levels so that you never feel like you are drowning in work.

Step 3 – Take 5 minutes to plan for the Day

Before you start doing your homework, look at your planner first. Understand what exactly you need to get done in the day and then you can make sure that you are only working on the most

Then you can decide what specific tasks to work on for the day. Doing daily planning will ensure that you’re always working on the most important tasks and that you don’t leave anything out that is time sensitive to your deadlines.

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Step 4 – Timebox, TimeBox, TIMEBOX

Timeboxing is a simple time management technique that involves allotting a fixed, maximum unit of time for an activity in advance, and then complete the activity within that time frame. With timeboxing, you allocate time periods in order to put a strict limit to activities you fear would otherwise take away too much of your time. In timeboxing time periods are called “timeboxes” and may involve longer time periods, covering periods ranging from 15 minutes to several months.

A timebox always has specific deadlines and goals associated with it, and it may also involve deliverables and milestones. At the end of the timebox, you declare your work done, no matter what, and then you assess whether you were able to meet your goals, either completely or partially.

Step 5 – Learn how to Say No

If you want to be an organised student it is not possible to say yes to everything. There will be trade-offs and sacrifices that you need to make otherwise the goals you are setting out to achieve will not be of the level that you are hoping to achieve. The child will have to be the one to decide his limits and boundaries and will have to decide how many times to go out with their friends, how much time they want to devote to extra-curriculars, and what their priorities are. Saying no is to protect these boundaries and remember do not feel guilty when you say it.

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The Importance of Practical education

As a student, I have always understood and been made to focus on the importance of theoretical knowledge. The basis of all fact and science tends to be from theory but having studied both International Baccalaureate (IB) and ICSE in India I have come to understand the key difference between both and it comes down to a very simple reality. ICSE focuses on the syllabus and knowing every square inch of the information with always understanding the theory and that has its pros and cons but no doubt it helps Indian students become as perseverant and hard-working as they are in comparison to the rest of the world. I believe the aspect of that IB does better than ICSE is actually allowing students to apply the theory that they are learning in the class by conducting experiments, conducting Internal Assessments, and conducting the research to back the theory that they learn or develop.

I believe that practical learning is essential because it has allowed me to think past the theories we have been taught. I believe it extremely crucial to supplement the theory we learn because while ICSE and CBSE are the core of India’s educational excellence the method of examination does not incline itself to apply these theories. I feel that practical education is the next step to improving the Indian education system. It allows students to explore past the theories they learn by teaching them the process that it takes to create a theory. This allows for innovation and a better understanding of the fundamentals. If you see all the top executives and business people they are not necessarily school topper but are in fact people that are able to seamlessly apply theories into practice.

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Therefore I emphasize on practical learning, it is a simple example that I will use, a salesperson can spend years and years on the theory of selling and understanding people but up until he does not try it in practice, he will never understand his own shortcomings and he will not be able to become the best salesperson. Therefore I encourage parents to use ways to supplement their children’s learning by giving them resources such as online learning, conducting experiments, and helping them apply their theory in practical daily situations that will improve their understanding. Theory only serves you through school but practice serves you through life.

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Growth Mindset vs Fixed Mindset

A person’s mindset is extremely important for their productivity and their long term performance. For students, it is extremely important for them to understand that having a fixed mindset is counterproductive for them to excel and be the best version of themselves. There are key differences that allow you to differentiate. A person with a fixed mindset is one who avoids challenges, gives up easily when obstacles are put in front of them. This leads to a person becoming a procrastinator and one who does not grow. A growth mindset is one where a person has a desire to learn therefore they always look to learn from their mistakes therefore they embrace challenges and persist in the face of setbacks. People with a growth mindset believe that intelligence can be developed whereas a fixed mindset believes that intelligence is static. 

A student’s mindset is very crucial to set at an early age because it sets a precedent for the rest of their life and it is the base of their learning and development. It is important to remember that success does not just come from luck and good timing, it has a great deal to do with our perseverance and learning from failure thus fixed mindset is not conducive to success. I believe that we must realise the importance of constructive criticism and criticism as a whole, many times kids see criticism as a way of undermining their efforts. As parents, it is helpful to tell them where they have gone wrong so that they do not repeat mistakes. Repetition is a key to success but only when you are repeating a process that is nearly perfect, perfection is only possible from always accepting that there is room for improvement. 

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In essence, having a growth mindset means growing from mistakes, not being complacent, and always accepting that there is room for improvement and I strongly believe that successful people have growth mindsets because they are open-minded. Thus I encourage you to develop that mindset with your children at an early age as if you build a strong foundation you allow the child to use it as a springboard for success.