Learning can happen anywhere: at the kitchen table, on a walk across town, outside surrounded by trees, in a classroom, lab, or theatre. The ideal physical learning environment can change depending on who is involved in learning and on the subject being taught.
So, how do we create an optimal learning environment regardless of whether we are in a classroom, at home, or outside? It comes down to some universal principles.
Here Are Six Ways To Create An Optimal Learning Environment Anywhere:
- Build Good Relationships: Whether you’re a classroom teacher or a home-schooling parent, the principle is the same. Optimal learning happens when there is an attachment between the teacher and the learner. Time spent to build this relationship is never a waste, in fact, it is an essential part of learning and provides a foundation for growth – for you and your student(s).
- Establish Trust: While it may be easier for parent and child to establish trust, it’s just as important in the classroom. Trust is vital for learning. First, trust yourself, your own knowledge and abilities. If you don’t trust yourself, your student won’t either. Second, trust your learner and allow them to make decisions as part of learning. Trusting your students to make choices creates a learning environment that is more engaging. and ultimately more fun and effective too!
- Create Variety: As the old saying goes, “variety is the spice of life!” Even if you are in the same classroom or home every day for learning, there are ways to shake things up and create variety. Variety can come in the form of types of learning (project-based, hands-on, inquiry-based), or it can come from choosing different mediums or sources of learning (watching a documentary, reading a book, listening to music, creating art, or using technology). When in doubt, get outside and get messy. There are endless opportunities to learn outside and the change of scenery can be vitalizing for everyone! Some of the best learning happens when we combine disciplines and subjects to ask questions, create a story, or discuss an idea.
- Make Room For Diversity: Diversity is an important part of creating an optimized learning environment. Representation matters in learning and in life. Choose subjects, authors, and information that empowers learners to embrace diversity as a natural part of life outside in the animal kingdom and among human beings too. Whether it’s a diversity of ideas, genders, or cultures, it’s important that every learner feels seen and understands that they have a unique place in the world.
- Personalize Learning: Every learner has unique interests and ideas. For parents, personalizing learning is easier due to the smaller teacher: student ratio and an established relationship, but even in the classroom personalized learning is both important and possible. Once you’ve established a relationship with each learner, and built trust, you will begin to have the opportunity to understand your student’s interests and abilities. Personalization in the classroom can include interest-based learning and inquiry, and differentiation based on learning level.
Everyone needs to learn the same fundamental skills to succeed in life but not everyone needs to do it by working on the same thing at the same time.
- Promote Curiosity & Fun: At the end of the day, learning should be fun. When we make learning something that we just have “to do” it becomes a chore; it becomes boring and dull. Learning is an opportunity to explore and discover. Allow your learner(s) to ask questions and make mistakes, to discover the world around them in their own way. This makes learning more fun and improves retention!
An optimized learning environment ultimately is one where everyone feels safe to be themselves, to ask questions, and explore new ideas. The location is secondary.
We’d love to hear your ideas! Are there any other methods that you use to create an ideal learning environment? What would you add to this list? What do you do in your home or classroom that helps to create an environment that is optimal for learner growth?