Children are impressionable young creatures; their minds like clay are easily moulded and manipulated by the external factors governing their lives. Alongside parental interest, family income and access to materials, languages spoken at home and teacher’s personality are vital environmental factors affecting learning ability.
Family income and access to materials are quite self-explanatory. In order for a child to do well, access to resources is crucial and – although family income can be directly linked to this, that’s not always the case. Instead the school your child attends can work to fill the void if you will – at least to a certain extent.
By this I mean schools can often provide a helping hand: be it through small things such as allowing students to borrow textbooks from its library to much bigger things such as bursaries and other premiums.
Regardless of economic capital, a little bit of parental interest goes a long way… It has been found that parents have the power to help make or break a child’s future. This isn’t all that surprising as parents are after all a child’s first teacher.
In fact, parental engagement in a child’s educational development has been found in some research to improve attainment more than any other single factor. This alone is testament of just how much influence parents have over their child’s progress.
But how is it that language plays such an important role? In simple words: language aids learning. It enhances communication with peers and teachers alike and allows your child to effectively make their voice heard while also allowing them to develop the ability to comprehend others.
Bilingual children are at the highest advantage: Research has shown those children who grow up learning to speak two languages are better at switching between tasks than children who only speak one. Being bilingual has also been found to have positive cognitive benefits as it allows individuals to develop a better attention span as a result of switching from one language to another. Thus, a trait that has been seen as a hindrance in the past has now been proved advantageous for many.
Teacher’s personality – yet another environmental factor – has been found to have an influence on learning ability. In particular, the way in which the teacher interacts with students has an incredibly significant impact on the behaviour that emerges as a result. This behaviour then influences the rate at which learning occurs.
In fact, sociologists have researched this area extensively, concluding that that teacher’s expectation has the power to massively impact a student’s attainment both positively and negatively. One study by Rosenthal and Jacobson found that the expectations effect was so great, randomly selected pupils labelled as ‘ready to bloom’ were found to have a noticeable increase in IQ test scores. Subsequently, just like parents teachers too have the power to shape minds and boost student’s achievements.
Therefore with all these factors in mind, it can be concluded that learning abilities are not defined solely by innate qualities of ‘ability’ as many have been led to believe. Instead a combination of external elements plays an enormous part in learning. As a result it is the responsibility of those involved in the child’s life to mould their minds in a way which provides them with the best possible chances in life…