Without enthusiasm, learning becomes hard work. Children learn best when they are happy and excited about their learning, and a good school creates a learning environment that fosters curiosity, wonder, and joy. How does a program create such intangibles? Most importantly, educators must identify this ethos as a goal of the program rather than a happy byproduct, and then work purposefully to create it.
A school can intentionally set a tone that encourages happiness and joy in both students and teachers. School leadership should set the tone by treating staff with respect and courtesy. Adequate compensation, professional development opportunities, and respectful communication are all important in ensuring that teachers are happy in their workplace. Joyful schools also tend to celebrate the accomplishments of A school can intentionally set a tone that encourages happiness and joy in both students and teachers.community members; demonstrate warmth and a personal touch in communications and interactions; and affirm that learning itself has intrinsic worth.
In the classroom, students should feel a positive vibe around the learning process. Spaces that allow exploration and encourage social interactions can help keep kids excited about school. Projects that celebrate individual effort as well as collaboration and allow for discovery, choice, and meaningful results also contribute to a joyful environment. Most importantly, teachers should set the expectation that everyone is enthusiastic and affirming of different approaches, ideas, and accomplishments.
- Does this school seem like a place where kids are happy, excited, and able to ask questions?
- Do the students seem interested in what their peers and teachers have to say? Is everyone given an opportunity to contribute to a group discussion or activity?
- Are questions and contributions considered “right’ and “wrong,” or are children’s discoveries and connections encouraged and celebrated even when “outside the box”?
- Are examples of student work visible and celebrated?
- Let your children lead the way in showing you what they enjoy! While it’s good to encourage them to try new things, it’s also great to encourage their natural interests and talents. And remember, that’s their interests, not your interests!
- Keep the vibe positive at home. Remind yourself to show enthusiasm and respect for your child’s interests. And model a positive attitude when it comes to your own interests, so they see how pursuing them brings you joy.
- When your child has done something they are proud of, display it! Put up their artwork, read their story out loud, have them play their music for the family, let their block creation stand for a few days! Find ways to show them that you appreciate what they have accomplished, even if their work is not quite professional-quality just yet!
- Be observant. Pay attention to your surroundings. Notice and point out things to your child that might spark curiosity, wonder, and joy.