BUILDING LEARNING POWER: INTRODUCTION
Building Learning Power or BLP is based on the work of Professor Guy Claxton. It is an approach to learning that is taught across our school and it helps the children:
· Learn more
· Learn better
· Become better learners
· Become lifelong learners
Building Learning Power involves developing the behaviours a child or young person will need to face challenge calmly, confidently and creatively and as a result, give them the life skills that they need for their journey through school and into the real world. We want the children at our school to be lifelong learners.
We want the children to see learning as a process. For them to see that ability is not a gift or fixed, but something that can be improved with hard work and practice. We want them to know that they are all good at something and that they can get better at the things that they find a challenge. We believe that we need to give our children the skills they need to face whatever career path they take in a future that we may not recognise.
The approach that we take is realistic and accessible to all and it is an approach that can be cultivated at home and school.
The way that we teach these behaviours to the children is through the 5Rs:
· Respect (runs throughout the above).
We call these behaviours our learning muscles and explain to the children that they need to be exercised in order to get learning fit. Each muscle is broken down into a set of associated behaviours that we teach explicitly through our normal timetable and curriculum. One new muscle is introduced every fortnight. Each time we launch a new learning behaviour, or muscle, we will inform parents in the Newsletter.
While the curriculum and the timetable will appear to remain the same, the BLP muscles will be at the route of all learning. Teachers will alert the children to the learning muscles that will be actively exercised in their lessons and they will be encouraged to develop their learning behaviours with each other and individually. The learning process involved during each lesson will be made explicit and the children will be encouraged to talk about their learning. When faced with challenge, the teachers will not step in too quickly but allow the children time to ‘exercise their learning muscles’. In addition, the teachers will model themselves as good learners, sometimes saying that they don’t know but show how to find out. We will praise the process of learning rather than just the academic outcome. This reinforces the idea that ability can be learnt and we are all learners at something. We want our children to know that making mistakes means you are learning something new.
Children will begin to use the language of learning. You may hear them say things like “I was resourceful today...” or “I was resilient when I...” Take time to talk to your children about these achievements in the same way you would if they got a good mark in spelling or moved onto a new reading level. Children will be taught to see mistakes and challenge as normal part of the learning process and they will be expected to try hard to overcome these challenges for themselves. Over time, children will become better at facing challenge and uncertainty in a calm, confident and creative way. This is the start of a lifelong journey, so remember, each journey begins with small steps.
First and foremost, appreciate the impact that developing these learning behaviours can have on your child’s potential. Parents have a powerful influence on a child’s self-concept as a learner.
Activities that help in exercising the learning muscles:
· Using interesting and complex vocabulary.
· Encouragement to read for a range of purposes.
· Cultural activities (libraries, museums, performances or historical sites).
· Development of hobbies.
· Providing opportunity to question and try out new things.
· Having conversations about things outside the home.
· Discussions about progress at school.
Everyday behaviours and skills to develop:
· Encourage your child to take responsibility for preparing for school.
· Ask not what they did but what they learned.
· Help them think about and plan activities.
· Encourage flexibility and the ability to change the plan.
· Model being a good learner (show them what it looks like).
· Work and play alongside your child, enabling them to pick up good habits through imitation.
· Make expectations of turn taking and co-operation clear.
· Encourage them to take calculated risks in their learning.
· Instil the ethos that we learn from our mistakes and that it is good to make them.
· Remind them that learning can be messy and there will always be ups and downs.
· Encourage an enjoyment and satisfaction in challenging ourselves and stretching our learning.
Providing opportunity for children to develop the 5Rs at home, give them safe and secure experiences to draw on and apply in school. It helps build their confidence in themselves. We know children do well when they feel they can do something well but this does not always provide new learning experiences. We also need to help them feel just as confident when they don‘t feel they can do something so well. We want our children to face such challenges without feeling that they are a failure or not clever any more, but to see setbacks and frustration as a normal part of learning that everyone experiences at some time or other.
Parents need to be ready for the challenges. You need to be able to regulate emotions when faced with setbacks. You may be faced with your own feelings of impatience, or be presented with challenging behaviour from your child. You need to be able to stick with it – just as you would when working on issues such as bedtimes or healthy eating. The same philosophy is required when a child says they can’t do something or wants you to do it for them. Of course it should not become a battle ground, but think twice before stepping in. Help your child think about using their learning muscles.