Love Life, Love Learning
When young children play and explore, their inner drive and hunger for knowledge shines through. We are born with a brilliant tool kit for learning which only needs the right conditions and encouragement. We come into the world knowing nothing. Learning is essential and can be a joy. So what can we do to light a child’s fire for learning?
Motivation and success: encouraging a Zest4Learning
No one would deny that a good school plays a significant role in a child’s life but the attitudes and skills a child contributes to the mix is vitally important. Motivation is the factor which determines whether a child fulfils their potential or whether they under perform.
A zest for learning is highly personal and separate from intelligence. There is a chain reaction of 4 inter-linked factors which impact on success.
1. Emotional wellbeing is the first factor which underpins motivation. When a child is emotionally secure they can manage negative feelings without becoming overwhelmed by them. A child who is calm and confident is well placed to engage with new experiences. Emotional wellbeing anchors the ability to learn. Children who are not comfortable with themselves, and who are unsure of their place in the world, find it hard to settle and engage with learning.
The emotional area of the brain, when left in a switched-on state for long periods, upsets the biochemistry of the brain required for concentration and learning. In particular, it affects the development of the planning and organizing part of the brain which manages concentrated effort which is known as self regulation.
2. A calmer, more confident outlook enables the child to explore and use their personal strengths which brings a deep satisfaction, a sense of competence and an enthusiasm for exploring new experiences. Self determination theory shows us that self motivated learning requires opportunities for autonomy, competence and positive relationships to support progress. Children who know their strengths and who are encouraged to use them have a profound sense of their own competence and future potential.
3. The experience of competence and mastery builds a child’s enthusiasm for play and later makes the discovery of flow more likely. Experiencing flow appears to be essential for achieving high performance as it sustains the effort required for the many hours of practice to gain expertise, for example learning to read
4. This virtuous circle provided by the first 3 factors is finally consolidated by positive communication skills which give a child a firm grounding in developing trust and asking for adult support. Children who are confident learners engage well with their teachers. They have a well established range of behaviours which support and consolidate learning. They enjoy talking about what they are doing and reflecting on their progress. Reflection deepens and develops thinking skills. They also ask questions to help them solve a problem and are more likely to actively contribute to group work.
Learning for Life
When children understand how they can best learn they have knowledge which equips them to adapt their behaviour, reflect on their needs and manage their own learning as the occasion demands. My new book
What children Need to be Happy, Confident and Successful: Step by Step positive Psychology to Help Children Flourish gives you practical strategies to help children become confident and motivated whether at school or at home.
You can view the book here http://www.amazon.co.uk/What-Children-Happy-Confident-Successful/dp/1849052395/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_1