The Different Factors Affecting The Learning Ability of a Child

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All children go into formal education at the same age, but what makes a child ready to learn? There are plenty of factors to take into consideration when it comes to children being ready to learn. The first step to a child’s readiness to learn is self-regulation. A study shows that there is a ‘sensitive period’ from age’s three to five, where a child’s self regulation can develop. But what is self-regulation? A child with self-regulation skills should be able to focus their attention, control their emotions and manage their thinking, behaviour and feelings. Although, self-regulation develops into adulthood, if a child develops these skills at an early age it will help their learning development by the time they start school. Skills such as following instructions, staying focused and managing emotions in social situations will become easier to manage (Bronson, 2001). An environment that provides opportunities for a child’s imagination to grow as well as their curiosity will ensure their self-regulation skills to develop properly (Day 2 Day Parenting. 2013).

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Another factor of a child’s readiness to learn is health and physical development, which is a very important factor. Linking to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, a child’s basic needs must be met in order to be even willing to learn (Early Childhood Knowledge and Learning Center 2016). Fine and Gross motor skills also play a big part in a child’s readiness to learn. If a child cannot hold a pencil properly, this could impact their writing skills. However, pencil grips are now used in schools to help children who have difficulty developing their fine motor skills (Landy et al., 1999). An essential part of a child’s readiness to learn is whether or not they have developed language and literacy skills. Children begin to develop language at birth, this is a skill they learn by imitating the vocabulary used at home by parents and eventually other children in a social environment. Well developed language skills are essential for a child; however, if there are any delays in the language development, teachers and parents must address the issue quickly to professionals. If problems to arise, this may effect a child’s social interaction and understanding of words and sentences (Gorski, Deb 2006).

When children start school they are put into sets or groups by teachers. This is to help children with different and mixed abilities get the proper help that they need to continue to develop their skills without the pressure of competing against their classmates. These groups are mainly put in place with core subjects such as Maths and English; this is because Maths and English are very important for children to learn and be fluent in. This doesn’t mean that children must know everything about the said subject, but have at least some basic knowledge. Setting numbers in order, being able to add up simple equations, children need to know how and why numbers have place value and they need to understand the relationships between operations (Hiebert, 1999). How can teachers help children to become “fluent” in Maths? This links to recall in memory, practising a certain maths equation and handing out homework is very effective for children as a way of practising outside the classroom (Amass, Helen 2015). Literacy and reading skills are fundamental when it comes to children starting school, because it links in with language and speaking skills. Children who are starting school should already have a developed vocabulary. Teachers should focus on teaching children how to read; this will help children develop their writing and spelling skills. If a child is having difficulty forming these skills, it may be because they have speech impairment or any other learning disadvantage. Teachers and parents should pick this up easily and will be assisted by professionals (Gorski, D. 2006).

There are many factors that affect a child’s learning in school, using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs shows the different elements of a child’s needs in order to learn effectively. The first step on Maslow’s pyramid is the basic important needs of any child; food, sleep, water, clothing and warmth. In an educational setting this could be by having breakfast clubs in the morning before class starts and having a good meal for lunch. If a child is thirsty, having water fountains in place around the school is a good idea and it will keep children hydrated when learning. As for sleep, usually in nursery there is a nap time set in place but in primary and secondary school there is not, that is why it is important that parents must insure that children get at least eight to nine hours of sleep every night. Without these, a child will not be motivated to learn or even be able to concentrate, that is why the first level is so important to children (Mcleod, S. 2007). The second level on Maslow’s pyramid is safety needs; does the child feel safe in school and the classroom environment? A child also needs safety at home, if a child does not feel safe at home, he is likely to not do well in school. The third level on the pyramid is belongingness and love, in an educational setting; children need to form friendship groups and even good relationships with their teachers in order to be motivated to learn.

Having friendships can help children with their social skills and their mental health (Ferrer and Fugate, 2007). The fourth level on the pyramid is esteem needs, which plays a vital part in a child’s education. If a child has low self esteem, they may distant themselves from their lessons; not wanting to read in front of the class or stand up to present their work. This could lead to the children having anxiety whenever it comes to doing tasks in front of the class or even lacking motivation to do well in their work. Teachers should strive to help children build confidence in the classroom; these skills will help them with their work and motivation (Sunderland et al., 2003). The fifth or the top level of the pyramid is self-actualization, without the bottom level a child cannot achieve to the top level. To fulfil self-actualization, a child must be motivated and driven with his own personal goals in mind, to be committed in their interests and school work alike. When a child sets goals, it helps with their organisation skills and gives them a reason to be motivated (Evitt, M. 2015).

Dweck believes that children and adults have a fixed and growth mindset, in education, fixed and growth mindsets have an effect on motivation. If a child has a fixed mindset they are more than likely lacking in motivation, they accept the skills they have but don’t develop them. Children might avoid challenges and group tasks; they might also not ask for help if they don’t understand a piece of work, they lack effort to improve their learning skills. Children with growth mindsets make room for improvement and set goals to achieve. Children have the motivation to learn affectively, they will ask for assistance if they do not understand the piece of work given and they will accept feedback positively as it guides them to improve their work ( 2017). Teachers should always aim to help children gain a growth mindset; one way of practising a growth mindset is to praise children the right way. Instead of praising a child whenever he does something correct all the time, teachers can praise children once they have achieved their set goal or target. This will help motivate children to move forward to gain their new set goal. “Many of the things we do to motivate our kids are sapping their desire to learn” says Dweck (McKay, 2015). Encouraging children to work in group activities can help build confidence; this is good for their self esteem and motivation. Making time to reflect on lessons and work can help to model a growth mindset, asking the child ‘what went well?’ and ‘what could you have done better?’ will help to create ideas on making lessons more enjoyable as well as where the children can move on in terms of their own work (Heggart, 2015).

There are a lot of factors inside and outside the classroom that influence a child’s learning. A child’s background and up bringing can have an impact on their learning, this includes what their parents do for a living, what class they are considered to be in. According to The Guardian “middle-class pupils do better because parents and schools put more effort into their education (The Guardian, 2010). This suggests that children who have middle class parents are more often to work harder at their schools work than others as their parents are hard working to earn a living, children who witness their parents working hard could motivate them into doing well. Regardless of what kind of background a child comes from, teachers must treat their students equally and give them equal attention and help. This is why schools have mixed ability groups set in place; this is good because children who are learning slower than others perhaps due to their home environment get a chance to learn at the same pace as their classmates. This is also good for self esteem needs, if a child feels insecure or self conscious about their work, having mixed ability groups will help them gain confidence whilst around other children. Mixed ability groups help teachers with giving their attention and guidance to children easily, this way a teacher can sit down with a group and explain things without singling out a child who is shy. This also helps children to socialise in the classroom and helps teachers see who is doing most of the work and who isn’t participating (Kelly, 1974).

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Another way that mixed ability groups help in classrooms is with children with disabilities. Children with disabilities may feel like they don’t belong or feel as if they are different from other children. Being put in a mixed ability group can also help them with socialising and making friends, if they make friends in their set group they can be at ease and look forward to school and learning, this will also help them with their motivation. Teachers can help them by helping the group instead of singling them out and making them feel different, they could also get help from their peers (Jellison, 2015). However, teachers must make sure that children with these learning difficulties are set in front of the classroom, this way they can still be in their set groups but the teacher can also keep an eye on them, making sure that they do not get distracted and that they are focusing on their work (Bailey, 2012).

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The Different Factors Affecting the Learning Ability of a Child. (2018, October 26). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 28, 2023, from
“The Different Factors Affecting the Learning Ability of a Child.” GradesFixer, 26 Oct. 2018,
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