Child psychology: Supporting learning

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By Kairen CullenCPsychol AFBPsS, Independent Chartered Psychologist and journalist

Use basic, child psychology approaches to support children’s learning

Child thinking

There are so many things to look at, listen to and touch in a classroom, that children can easily become distracted from what it is they’re supposed to be doing. So, it’s important to help them develop ways to improve their concentration and help process information in a way that’s meaningful to them. Following on from my introduction to child psychology, this article will look at why it is important in a learning environment. I will cover some psychological theories and perspectives on learning, and describe some examples of how you can use them.

Star charts and naughty chairs

I come across programmes and articles about parenting and child development featuring star charts and naughty chairs all the time. Maybe this is because behavioural ideas are relatively easy to communicate and the immediate results are often dramatic. In a nutshell, behaviourism is concerned with observable behaviour, demonstrable learning and skill acquisition in both humans and animals. The key idea is that if an individual’s behaviour results in positive consequences, then they will do more of it and if it results in negative consequences, they will do less. For example, if you use positive reinforcement for rewarding children’s on-task behaviour, then effort levels and good work are likely to continue or even increase. However, there are four important principles for effective positive reinforcement to remember:

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