How Do You Develop a Positive Attitude Towards Learning?
Updated: Nov 9, 2022
The world of education is in constant flux. Educators have been some of the greatest innovators the world has ever seen and are constantly looking at ways to make learning better and more interesting for students. Despite the various theories and methodologies in place today, most teachers talk about a common issue: a lack of positivity among the students.
When parents meet teachers during the scheduled meetings, there is usually an exchange of the same issues that worry us- anxiety during examinations, a fear of a certain subject, lack of interest in schoolwork, reluctance to go to school, and difficulty in staying focused and consistent.
Parents and caretakers often see all of these as ‘laziness’ or ‘an attitude problem.’ We, as educators, like to believe that motivated students develop a positive attitude towards their lessons and continue to work towards performing well in school.
Many teachers and parents wonder how we can bring about a positive attitude to learning, as we are often met with,
But I don’t like to go to school
School is boring, I go to meet my friends
I don’t understand what the teacher says
I was sleepy while in school
My teacher is strict, and I don’t like the subject
There is too much to learn
I can’t concentrate
The list could be endless.
Developing a positive attitude is essential as we do not want children to go through their schooling robotically. School days are some of the best times to create everlasting memories and lifelong friends and soak up an ocean of information. To enjoy school is to explore, imagine, create and learn. As parents and educators, we can do the following to help children develop a positive attitude towards learning.
We believe that optimism, like happiness, is contagious. A teacher is an embodiment of this idea. Every teacher, no matter what problems they carry within them, has a bright cheerful smile and a kind words for students every day of school. Most schools insist that teachers use positive talk with their students. Gone are the days when teachers were known for their rude comments and derisive remarks.
Negative talk, such as
You can’t do it
This is too much for you
This is more than you are capable of
Do you think you ca,n do this?
You’ll never amount to anything
Aren’t you overreaching?
It should be replaced with
This is difficult, but I can help you with it
Do let me know if I can work with you on this
Shall we work together to learn this?
You got this
Wow! You have taken up a challenge. Can I assist you with it?
I could explain this again
We could figure out another way to learn this
The importance of positive talk was undervalued in education. Most parents and teachers were under the impression that kindness would lead to complacency. However, encouraging a child to learn and explore boundaries is the need of the hour. Putting someone down leads to anxiety and diffidence.
So, even when you hear a child say, ‘This is too difficult,’ or ‘I can’t do this,’ encourage them to stay on the path of learning instead of nodding in agreement and going back to the series that you were watching on your favourite device. You could get to the root of the problem by asking questions like
Why do you think you can’t do it?
Why is it difficult?
Is there a part of it that you don’t understand, or do you not understand the whole unit?
Do you think it would be easier if we discussed it?
Can we try and learn it together?
Shall we do some experiments to learn this?
When the student sees how calm they are about the topic, they tend to calm down and feel less threatened by what they have to study.
Create a positive learning space
Messy surroundings and cluttered tables and rooms do not bode well for students. Learning happens in a positive learning space. Schools are designed and constructed keeping this in mind. Large open spaces with plenty of light have become a part of every school building. Windows that allow for air circulation and light and comfortable and clean classroom furniture contribute to a positive learning space. Cheerfully coloured walls add to the atmosphere of cheer and positivity.
Similarly, you could allocate space for learning at home. This need not be a room dedicated to learning, as most families face space constraints when living in the city. This could be a table in the corner of a room. Pin up some positive quotes, and use a cheerful or bright colour like yellow or a pastel shade to paint that wall on that side of the room to help create a demarcation from the rest of the room.
Ensure the child has a few shelves to place their books, stationery and projects instead of letting them lay spread out on the table. A dustbin is also of the essence. Pencil shavings, eraser residue, waste paper, crumpled bits of paper and other waste do not have a place on the study table.
Along with the physical aspects, a positive learning space is one in which the child feels secure. Therefore, parents and teachers should strive to create a space that is friendly, non-threatening and free of distractions. At school, we strive to make sure that the children thrive in a happy space filled with positive talk and cheerful ways of learning. At home, parents can ensure that nobody disturbs the child while learning, and the television’s volume is turned down so that dialogues from the family’s favourite sitcom do not distract the child.
Lead by example
When parents complain to us about their children’s apathy towards reading, we suggest that the parents read to the children. They lead by example. Children emulate what they see in their surroundings. Young children use the same language and enunciation as their parents or teachers. Similarly, children observe the older people around them from a young age and pick up their habits.
If you have a child who dislikes learning and cries when asked to write, lead by example. Sit down with a book, and tell them you would like to learn with them. Keep your phones away, and get involved in the learning process. If they have a school project, sit down with them while they create their working models. Ask questions to find out why they are doing certain things. Exhibit curiosity. This helps children to feel less stupid when they ask questions.
Most importantly, do not ask your children to pick up their books and study while you gaze at your phone during work hours. During counselling sessions, we often hear children tell us that their parents get irritable when they ask for help while the parents are watching television or using social media. To lead by example, it is important to set aside time to stay involved in the child’s learning.
Be a cheerleader
There is something special about knowing that there is always someone to cheer us on. Even on the bleakest days, a kind smile, a pat on the back and a word of encouragement can bring us out of our sorrow. Appreciate every little thing that your child does. Be their greatest fan and cheerleader.
Focus on the good they do- good marks on a class test, a star or sticker from the teacher for answering in class, homework they do on their own, a neat notebook, and getting ready for school on time. It will surprise you how acknowledging that they woke up early and got ready for school on time encourages the child to go through their day with a smile.
By cheering them on, it is also important to focus on good behaviour instead of antics that get them in trouble at school and home. So, it would be great to cheer them on in the following ways.
I’m happy that you listened to your teacher in class.
Don’t play in class today.
You finished your schoolwork in time!
There is so much to write and I don’t know when you will finish it.
You practised well. You will be able to do well in the exam today.
Don’t forget everything you learned. Don’t get confused.
You can do well in school. You are smart.
Don’t get distracted. Don’t think you are not smart.
Rewards are another great way to motivate children and create a positive attitude towards studies. Just as kind and positive words help children to build their confidence, rewarding good behaviour and learning to help them to look forward to learning. At work, we like to get appreciation, salary increments and promotions. Children are no different.
They like to be rewarded for the work they do. Rewards do not have to be in the form of expensive gifts. You can plan a weekend getaway, take them for a drive before bedtime, cook their favourite dish, or give them extra playtime. Words of encouragement, appreciation for completing tasks on time, and small tokens of appreciation help children to develop a positive attitude towards learning.