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How to Rewire Bad Learning Habits and Attitudes

Written By Geoff Nixon . December 8, 2023

How to Move Your Child onto a Positive Learning Track

Procrastination, disorganization, last minute cramming, skipping words while reading, resists new concepts, does not check work, engages in negative self-talk.  Do any of these bad learning habits describe your child?  To help your child become a more effective learner, it’s important to recognize and address these bad learning habits.  Not only do they hold back learning, they impact love of learning, learning confidence and learning independence

It probably does not surprise you to hear that bad learning habits most often develop in response to a learning delay.

If the delay is still present, the action plan is clear – find a learning intervention to address the underlying source of difficulty.  If the learning delay appears to have been resolved, but bad learning habits remain, that’s equally important to address. And that’s the subject of this article.

What are the Traits of a Healthy Learner?

If you are on a journey to help your child shed bad learning habits in favor of more positive traits, it helps to define this learning destination.  Here are some key traits of a healthy learner:

  1. Curiosity: Healthy learners ask questions and seek out knowledge.
  2. Self-motivation:  Healthy learners take initiative in their education.
  3. Resilience: Healthy learners shake off failures as part of learning and persevere even if the topics are challenging.
  4. Risk Taking: Good learners are open to new ideas, experiences, and ways of learning. They adapt when faced with changing circumstances.
  5. Critical thinking: Healthy learners analyze, evaluate and make informed decisions.
  6. Self-awareness: Healthy learners know their strengths and weaknesses as learners. They practice metacognition.
  7. Effective study habits: Good learners are good time managers, note-takers, planners and goal setters.
  8. Confidence: Healthy learners are risk takers, they believe in their capacity to take on new challenges.

Overall, a combination of attitudes and practical skills contribute to learning success.

From Bad Habits to Positive Traits

First of all, know that none of this is easy.  Bad learning habits are hard to shake, and positive learning habits take time to develop.

It’s a two-step journey.

  1. Eradicating bad habits can be addressed methodically one at a time
  2. Developing positive traits stems from internal dialog and following role models

Most important to know, is that none of these habits are surface issues.  Your child needs to feel it deep down.

And so there are no shortcuts.  Children with learning delays tend to be resourceful, perhaps to a fault, in developing work arounds (read, bad learning habits) and tend to become shut-down learners. The longer it takes to overcome the learning delay, the more deep-seated these behaviors become.  It’s starts a reaction to a cognitive or learning gap, it ends up being a bad learning habit.

Positive learning traits are symptoms of a healthy learning makeup – efficient processing, sustained attentiveness, fluent reading, etc.   The only way to get there is to remove the internal impediments to learning.

Over the next few articles we will review how to tackle a few bad learning habits and how to engender positive learning traits.

Interventions Help

It is no surprise that at least one third of the exercises in our Fast ForWord program seek to undo the collateral effects of learning delays – for instance, avoiding new challenges, not thinking while listening and reading.   The longer a learning delay lasts, the deeper seated the avoidance behaviors and flawed workarounds become.

This adds to the value of “early intervention.”   Early intervention is preferred over “growing out of it” because the younger the brain, the easier it is to bring about change. That’s true.  But as compelling is the idea of intervening early to minimize the after-effects.

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