Over the last year, we have been investigating how we can make children more independent and engaged in the learning process.
We believe that the more children understand how a ‘good learner’ behaves, the more they will be able to develop this behaviour for themselves. We know that as the world is changing so rapidly, children have to be able to respond confidently and creatively towards it. In order to do this, they need to have acquired the right skills and attitudes.
After a wide range of activities with the staff and children, we have come up with the list of key attitudes below. Each attitude has an animal linked to it. These will be an essential part of each lesson, where children will be identifying the key attitudes needed for the task and their own key areas for improvement. We would like you to consider these and try and reinforce them in their activities at home.
My Learning Attitudes
I believe in myself
I know that I can do well in all subjects just by having a positive attitude and trying hard. The more I try the easier it gets. I know that when I am challenging my thinking, my mind will get stronger just like the muscles in my body.
( Some children develop a fixed mindset towards learning – ‘ I am no good at Maths just like my Dad’ or ‘ Everyone has told me I am clever so I don’t want to challenge myself and risk making a mistake’ . This attitude needs to be challenged and children shown that, with effort and time, they can achieve well in all subjects. Mistakes are also a vital part of this learning)
I ask questions – Owl
I ask questions to find things out and to explore ideas so I understand things more deeply
(By the time children leave school at 11 they are asking 80% fewer questions than they did when they arrived in Reception. Something has happened for them to feel it is no longer worth it. They have become more passive in their learning, no longer willing to pose questions, to see alternatives, to wonder ‘What if…..?’)
I make links – Spider
I make links between what we experience or learn in school and also what I experience and learn outside school.
(In a world of change, the children who will be able to benefit fully from the changes are those that are able to make links in their learning to gain a greater understanding of the whole)
I use my imagination – Butterfly
I play with ideas and look at things differently even when I don’t quite know where my thoughts are leading.
(Some of the greatest developments in human thought, technology and society have come from people imagining life differently; balanced with reason, this sort of thought should always be encouraged)
I learn through others – Bee
I am part of a whole learning community and I know that I can often learn more with others. I also know when it is good to take time to think and work alone.
(When our children enter the world of work, they will no longer be in a job for life. They will have a countless variety of jobs and be working with a wide range of the people. The children, who will be the most successful, will be the ones who can work productively with a whole range of people from different social and cultural backgrounds)
I challenge myself – Ant
I reflect on my learning and make sure I always follow the next best steps to improve. I know that I should always challenge myself because that is when I learn. I always put myself in the Amber Zone.
(Many children (and adults) resist challenging themselves in case they make a mistake. Mistakes damage their self-image. It is vital that children realise that if they are not challenging themselves, they are not learning; they are merely going over work they already know. Consolidation is important but it should not become the predominant mode of activity in the classroom. Most mistakes should be seen as a vital part of learning and an important element in helping you extend your thoughts and skills in new directions. This risk-taking is to be encouraged)
I don’t give up – Tortoise
I know I can learn from my mistakes. I try new strategies. I know how and when to get help from others. I will keep going until I’ve done my best. I am able to ‘hang in’ with learning even though for a while I may feel confused and even anxious.
(Children will often give up rather than risk ‘failure’. Research has shown that for many children their potential is often undermined by their unwillingness to stick with their learning when things get difficult)
I have a go – Monkey
I am always willing to give it a go even when I am not completely sure as to what to do or what will happen. The most important thing is just getting started.
(There is a huge amount of emotion attached to learning. For a lot of children just getting started is a major endeavour as they battle with feelings of insecurity and fear of making a mistake. We want children to be able to recognise how important it is to just get started, to get a few ideas down onto paper and how this starts the cogs of thinking turning over, releasing you from the torpor of doubt).
Good luck with trying these at home!