Factors that influence Learning

We are all unique individuals with unique talents and preferences.

We all have the ability to learn, but we each have a personal learning style, and our own natural strengths and weaknesses.

By the time they start school, each child has learnt to walk, talk, play and create in their own style and in their own time.

When a child learns to walk, it is a process of trial and error, bumps and bruises, frustrations and experimentation.

But they persevere – because they want to explore their world and be like everyone else.

They are wired to learn, but they are also warmly and proudly encouraged by the adults on the sidelines. Everyone expects that, before they learn to walk, there will be many failed attempts. But each time, with encouragement from the sidelines, they will readjust their efforts with the insight gained from their earlier mistakes.

Then, one day, they will take those first tentative steps and the sidelines will cheer. The child is praised for their efforts and encouraged to venture further. (They are not graded for their learning outcome!!)

They will take on more challenges on two feet, trusting their ability to develop stronger skills and to overcome new obstacles.

But then … things can start to change for some children!

Difficulties in learning may not just be related to ability. Yes it is true that genetically we are all different. We have some natural gifts and the potential to develop others. In some areas, that potential is harder to embrace, and we will not be excellent at everything, no matter how hard we try. But all human beings have the potential to grow and learn, providing the conditions are right.

Learning requires persistence and optimism,  yet many students have lost or not yet developed these strengths.

Learning requires motivation and organization, but many students are overwhelmed by the scope and quantity of the demands on them. They lose focus and confidence, unable to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Learning requires insight which comes from taking risks and being curious. However, many students have stopped asking questions and trying new things due to negative experiences in the past.

Learning requires self-belief, yet many students quickly learn to measure their success by the grade they receive and not the effort and progress they made. Failure to achieve an A grade, no matter how much progress was made, can quickly translate into a sense of failure as a person.

Everyone has the ability to learn, but each person starts at a different point with different learning styles and at their own pace. In the classroom some individuals may struggle to keep up with the pace and level of their peers, and can benefit from individually tailored approaches.

Before you know how to ride a bicycle,

you don’t know how to ride a bicycle

To learn how to ride a bicycle takes courage, optimism and eagerness to learn. It starts with a struggle, a little nervousness, trial and error, wobbling, falling sometimes, feedback from others, approximations, encouragement, going at your own pace, starting on a clear, smooth surface, wobbling some more, straightening up, relaxing a little, venturing further, getting confident, speeding up, feeling in control… and they’re off!

Learning to solve a Maths problem, to speak in Italian or to write a history essay is no different. Students need to remember that before they are successful, they will not know what they are doing. And to struggle with not knowing is not only okay, it is vital in the learning process.

But they also need the right conditions – time and space, encouragement for effort, a safe place to experiment and take risks, patient guidance and feedback, and an environment that breeds optimism and is free of judgement.

There are many amazing teachers doing amazing things in classrooms, creating great conditions for learning. However, some students need extra individual support to account for their unique learning style and pace, to address earlier gaps in their learning, or to rebuild optimism and self-belief that has been lost through past negative experiences.

If you believe your child could benefit from some individual mentoring then please feel free to contact me.