What is helping and what is hurting your child’s learning?

A student’s behaviour and ability to learn depends on her immediate environment and those she interacts with everyday. Knowing how environment affects a child’s development helps us build an environment that is conducive to learning and that enhances her academic performance.

The factors affecting a student’s academic performance arise from several reasons. These include personality, motivation and interest, satisfaction, loneliness, pressure, and school environment, among others. So, among those factors, what is helping and hurting your child’s learning?

Most people rely on primarily intrinsic or extrinsic motivation alone, but both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation should play important roles in learning.

What drives your child’s behaviors? Does your child’s motivation arise from inside (intrinsic) or outside (extrinsic) herself?

Consensus among parents and educators is that motivation is very important in classrooms as a precondition for successful learning. Motivation energizes, directs, and sustains behavior; it gets students moving, points them in a particular direction, and keeps them going.

How does intrinsic and extrinsic motivation differ? Intrinsic motivation is based on internal factors, like pride and curiosity. Extrinsic motivation is based on external factors like money, rewards, obligations, or approval.

Both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation is important, and parents should take both into account to understand their child better as well as having appropriate guidance and rewards.

The job of educators and parents is to design classroom experiences that will enhance motivation. If a child’s motivation for learning is driven by the fear of embarrassment in front of her friends, failing a test has bigger repercussions socially, and she will be afraid to take risks and challenge herself.

We see this all the time in our classrooms. So many times, children come to us afraid to make mistakes. They are scared of what the teacher thinks, or what their friends will think, or worse yet, what their parents might think of them. To combat this, some students will act out with disruptive behavior and refuse to do assignments that are harder. Others will have a defeatist attitude and not even put their full effort into assignments. Either way, they do not have the right mindset to learn.

We believe it is important to turn this attitude around by making sure all students understand they are unique and special, but they must try their hardest to achieve their potential. First, we emphasize that our environment is a safe learning space, where everyone is there to learn from each other. If a peer berates or smirks at a student who is doing poorly, we put an end to this swiftly. There is no bullying tolerated. Second, we praise the process, not the outcomes.  We don’t care if a student has done well or poorly. What matters is their effort to practice good study habits and to apply what they have learned.

Once in this growth mindset, students can find joy in learning itself.  A child’s aim will be to quench her curiosity, and a lower grade will not necessarily mean disappointment. She will find the link between effort and outcome, and thereby increase her effort, which eventually results in cognitive and intellectual development.

Healthy children are better learners.

Overall, children need to be healthy in order to learn at their highest potential. According to the Royal Children’s Hospital, proper nutrition can have a direct impact on a child’s development both physically and psychologically.

The Royal Children’s Hospital stresses that building healthy eating habits, through hands-on learning and leading by examples, can really make a positive impact on a child’s development. Regular physical activities, even short bursts, enhance various aspects of brain affecting academic performance including learning, memory, concentration and mood. Researchers have found positive associations between physical education and concentration, impulse control, and other cognitive skills.

They also point out that physical activities can improve circulation, increase blood flow to the brain, extend attention span, and raise norepinephrine and endorphins. These physiological changes reduce stress, improve mood, and induce a calming effect.

Children who are performing poorly in school or are suffering from a short attention span should consider whether their children are experiencing any of the following problems at home: poor sleep patterns, resisting going to bed, frequent awakenings during the night, sleep-disordered breathing such as snoring or sleep apnea, or daytime sleepiness.

Students with poor health have a higher probability of school failure, grade retention, and dropout. Thus parents should encourage your child to stay healthy, which will boost her academic performance and help her to maintain a positive mindset.

The key to good health is just to take proper care of their body and healthy meals: have a balanced diet, avoid eating a heavy meal before studying, try to eat small and frequent meals during the day at do sports in free time, encourage students to stay healthy by participating in family fitness activities.

Home background has an effect on the academic performance of students.

Home environment provides the foundation for learning and is an element of the student life that can affect their learning attitude. Various homes factors have been shown to be important, parental care, discipline style and involvement with the child, organization of the environment, availability  appropriate of learning materials, opportunities for daily stimulation… Parents, who provide a warm, responsive and supporting environment, encourage exploration, stimulate curiosity and provide play and learning materials accelerate their children’s intellectual development.


Providing opportunities to learn outside the school help facilitate student success in the school environment. Parental interactions with children can have a largely positive or negative effect on child development. Some of the potential parental behaviour that can influence children’s learning motivation are:

  • Attributions for the child’s school performance
  • Perception of the task difficulty of school work
  • Value for school work
  • Expectation and confidence in children’s abilities

A child who comes from a home environment that is caring, comfortable and supportive brings to the classroom motivation arising from his conducive home environment. On the flip side, an unfavorable home environment produces a pupil who arrives at school perhaps hungry, angry, resentful, bitter, depressed or just simply stressed out.

Every child is born with a certain level of intellectual ability and capability but a good conducive environment with an adequate learning facility will help boost intellectual and academic capability of the child. To encourage your child’s learning ability, parents should have a good attitude toward education, spend time playing and teaching your kids through reading and by performing various types of hands-on games and activities, provide learning materials such as the television, instructive videos, books and creative toys that facilitate the learning process.

Student success comes from a positive learning environment

School also plays a very important role as the school also functions as a second educator to the child beside the parent. A large amount of the child’s time is spent sitting in a school classroom. This place is where they will learn the various skills that are necessary and proper for them to achieve success in the global society.

Children are motivated to work on activities and learn new information and skills when their environments are rich in interesting activities that arouse their curiosity and offer moderate challenges. Positive actions support a happy learning experience, affect problem-solving and decision-making, lead to better performance and improved social environments, and help each student achieve set goals and perform at his or her best.

On the other hand, school facilities that meet the needs of children, teachers and schools and is well designed will benefit all — from better classroom environments to improved student comfort, behavior and health. Color, classroom organization, cleanliness, sufficient supplies, and bright lights can enhance the learning experience and boost student achievement. Alternatively, crowded rooms and a high density of students often results in lower student achievement and a poorer student disposition. In addition, students who get involved in the creation of their environment through artwork, configuration, or participation in the physical dynamics of the classroom… experience a sense of empowerment and community that can help increase their overall motivation.

School is also known as an agent of socialization. The environment of the school also supports and encourages children to interact with one another under discussion and other activities. Students who attend safe schools where they are expected to form positive relationships with their teachers and peers have a notable advantage over students who attend schools without these beneficial traits.

Facebook, Twitter, Youtube…are shaping our young generation.

Social media has become an integral part of our lives, and no group feels its impact more than students. There’s no doubt that social media has had a huge impact on our lives.

However, getting too involved in social media can lead to an addiction that inculcates bad habits. Students prefer to chat with friends for hours, and this leads to a waste of time that could have been used for studying, playing or learning new skills. They neglect their studies by spending time on social networking websites rather than studying or interacting with people in person.

The habit of interacting through electronic means makes it harder to interact with people face to face. They communicate through the social media but are poor communicators in the real world. This virtual way of communicating with each other does not lead to a natural, friendly experience and hence cannot produce a healthy relationship with those friends. Also, these relationships tend to terminate easily due to a lack of personal contact.

On the other side, the ability to concentrate on the task at hand is significantly reduced by the distractions that are brought about by YouTube, Facebook or Twitter. Students who attempt to multi-task, checking social media sites while studying, show reduced academic performance. Such non-productive division of time can be rather detrimental for studying and lead to poor results.

According to Children and parents: Media use and Attitude report conducted by Ofcom in 2016, children at the age of 5 to 15 spend 13 hours a week on TV and 15 hours on the internet.

Actively and frequently participating in social networking can negatively affect their grades or hamper their journeys to their future careers. Therefore, parents should be conscious of your child’s media consumption, analyze how much time she wants to spend on social media and get her to decide how to spend time on socializing in an effective way.

To conclude, a lot of factors are influencing our child’s learning, both positively and negatively. As parents, we should be aware of all these factors to create a positive learning environment for the children to help them get ahead at school and develop their life-long love of learning.

Source of information:
University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine.
US National Library of Medicine
Children and parents: media use and attitudes report, Ofcom Co, November 2016


Register For A Free Trial Class