Throughout the past few years, the traditional educational system of the country has received a lot of criticism for not being a great learning environment. Often it is not the teachers receiving the bad reviews rather the strategies that they are forced to implement into their classes. Parents, experts, and plenty of teachers have voiced their concerns stating that the learning environment of the current system must change. Many students who would otherwise excel are being left behind due to these constraints. However, the question still begs, what makes a great learning environment for kids? In the following few paragraphs, we will discover and analyze a variety of components that many are saying should quickly be introduced into the classroom.
Understanding a Child’s Brain
When it comes to understanding a child’s capabilities, they are more often than not either underestimated or overestimated. We know that brain development continues from infancy all the way to young adults. According to Scholastic, the trick to developing a proper environment where kids can grow not only correctly but rapidly is to begin to understand their developing brain. In fact, various studies have shown that parents who kept a close eye on their child’s brain development fare better than most other students within their grade. This is because as the brain develops, so should the teaching techniques. Unfortunately, this is not what we see throughout schools today. Teachers or school officials will label children as nonresponsive to lectures because they simply underestimate their abilities. Other factors include cognitive reasoning. Just because you understand why it is important to learn about our founding fathers and the constitution, children may not have that developed just yet. Thus, alternative strategies should be implemented to get the children excited about learning these types of topics.
Variety of Learning Models
It is no secret that every student learns in their own way. Although this is known, it can be difficult to both implement and make sure that all needs are being addressed. In fact, the variety alone is often the issue behind the correct manner in which to teach a classroom full of different learners. These would include peer-to-peer learning, project-based learning, and direct instruction, to name a few. No matter how many you implement, you will soon notice that it’s never good enough. Therefore, according to VirtualSpeech, the best course of action here is to observe and create a dynamic style of learning that is able to cover most of these learning styles. Unfortunately, there is no straight solution to this issue. The best course of action is always to test, audit, and test again until you find the right formula for your students.
Assessments are provided to students in order to have an idea about what they have understood up until this point in the semester. The way you administer these assessments can either harm or help a child’s growth. How can it hurt a child and lead to an overall bad learning environment? A negative reaction to the assessment would occur if the assessments are infrequent, clinical, murky, or threatening. The only thing that this will provide you with is a clear list of the good test takers and the good students, thus leaving everyone else behind. The right way is to simply do the opposite of the methods listed above with an added ingredient, quick feedback. Oftentimes, teachers wait until the test has been graded before administering feedback. This is most often too late and irrelevant to the upcoming exams.
The Need for Safety
A child cannot learn properly without a sense of safety in the classroom. This need is so critical to the success of a child that it is one of the pillars within the “Maslow’s hierarchy of needs” pyramid. Protection isn’t only about keeping them safe from outside strangers but also from the elements, from bullies and hazardous obstacles. According to Hang Safe Hooks, it’s important to minimize protrusions and tripping hazards in a child’s learning environment. With the need for activity and the levels of energy kids have, a classroom should avoid having sharp edges or potential hazards. Providing these safety measures within a school can provide peace of mind to both student and parent alike.
Opportunity for Practice
A common observation seen throughout the traditional classroom is the constant need to keep going. This can be very detrimental to a child who may not have grasped the lesson well enough to continue. One might say that this keeps other students from learning, but what has been seen is that throughout the semester, students tend to drop off depending on their weaknesses. In simpler terms, just because one child does well for the vast majority of the time, it does not mean they will trip up sometime during the school year. This is why providing an opportunity for practice is so important to a student. Allowing them to go back, reflect on their mistakes, and have a chance to correct their errors can significantly improve their school work moving forward.
Emotional Support Rather Than Discipline
Over the course of the past few years, teachers have noticed a growing number of their students coming into their classrooms with behavior problems. According to ONEder, these issues are often caused by emotional and mental challenges that they may be facing within their homes. When students act out in class, it is not the best of ideas to simply punish them and think that it’s going to end there. Now, this doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be consequences, but rather that they understand what they did was wrong in combination with listening to their side of the issue. Therefore, in order to make a great learning environment for kids, they should not be afraid to step into the classroom in the first place. Instead, they should feel that it’s a place of comfort and understanding.
Criteria for Success
When college students enter their new semester, their professors will present them with a syllabus containing all the lessons, exams, and even quizzes they will take throughout the semester. College student understands that in order to succeed in the class, they must adhere to this syllabus. Why, then, don’t students within the elementary, middle, and high school levels receive this type of clear and detailed pathway to success? Providing a path to success for your students will show them that there are no ticks to education; the path and expectations are clear.
Diverse Sources of Material
If you are only teaching from one source, you put yourself at risk of following one narrow-minded view. Therefore, it is paramount that you create a positive learning environment for your kids by choosing a variety of sources to base your teaching off. Some could be from experts in the field, community leaders, and even those outside the educational system. Keep in mind that children come from varying backgrounds and cultures, so it’s good to be sensitive to all points of view. Keeping your sources diverse will help to make sure that all of the children can have an equally enriching educational experience.
Creating a great learning environment for kids is no easy task. Countless studies have been made on this very topic. However, the need to provide children with the best quality education cannot wait until these studies have concluded or some innovative tech device is introduced. Therefore, to create the best environment for children to learn, teachers, as well as school administrators, should adhere to some of the strategies laid out above.