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A rather essential way of encouraging children to do better at school is through creating a positive learning environment in which they can learn. It is; however, easier said than done as many children have their own ideas of limitations and reservations when it comes to learning. Helping children to look beyond those boundaries is vital to ensure they are able to progress and grow as independent learners.

There are five ways a teacher, tutor or even parent can foster a positive learning environment:

1. Understanding

By understanding how a child feels in a context of learning it can inform your choices for forming a positive learning environment. If you can identify what it is about a particular location, subject or teacher that impacts on a child you can then begin to craft the alternatives which engender their natural confidence. A crucial point of understanding is that it tells a child that you accept and acknowledge their concerns and that you are willing to rectify them in order to make them feel more comfortable. It is also evidence of your patience for their worries and it will no doubt open up the lines of communication between the two of you.

2. Positive Reinforcement

Encouragement and praise are essential motivational factors for any individual. If we are not made aware of what we have done correctly it is going to be impossible to build on our achievements. A simple verbal reward such as ‘good work’ or ‘nicely done’ can be all that is required to bolster their confidence and spur them on to try harder the next time.

3. Confidence

Build up a student’s confidence in any subject area by giving them practice in it. Setting them up with foundational skills and background information can assist them with feeling more secure with new topic areas or subjects. If they have nothing to relate to when it comes to new information they may automatically shut down and be reluctant to even have a go.

4. Open Communication

If a student feels that it is impossible or uncomfortable to enquire and seek assistance from a teacher or tutor he or she will refuse to do so. Likewise if they have been discouraged from asking questions due to ambiguous answers, frustration or general lack of clarification they will shut down to information which needs explanation. Let students know that you welcome their questions and are happy to offer assistance until they feel comfortable with the material. Your support can do wonders for their confidence and ability to problem solve.

5. Achievement

Built into the curriculum are opportunities to achieve such as examinations, assignments and quizzes. However, if a child already feels anxious about performing it may be important to break up assessment into smaller pieces. By offering a child frequent opportunities to gain success it is likely their confidence will grow and they will feel more positive about tackling larger evaluations of their skills.