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Sunnyfields Primary

Building Learning Power

Learning Power is an approach to learning to learn.

At Sunnyfields, we use Building Learning Power as part of our aim to develop independent learners with a growth mindset.

Lifelong learning is our birth right. We can continually develop our capacity to learn throughout our lives. We are all learners every day of our lives, however, it is very easy to take things for granted and assume that our children will just "pick things up"!

Research, however, is less cavalier and suggests that there are several dispositions that we need to develop in order to become successful lifelong learners.

Guy Claxton, who created Building Learning Power, suggests that there are 4 key learning dispositions:

  • Resilience
  • Resourcefulness
  • Reflectiveness
  • Reciprocity

These dispositions are inherent in us all. They are not fixed at birth, or when we leave school; they can be developed by everyone regardless of “ability”, social background or age. In fact, there are NO limits to extending our learning power!

How empowering is that? 

We can think of these dispositions as being like groups of "learning muscles".

Just as we can build our physical muscles with the right kinds of exercise, so we can exercise our learning muscles to develop their strength and stamina. Each of these dispositions are made up of a number of learning behaviours, which are called capacities. Because the learning capacities are quite specific in nature, they can be individually trained, nurtured and exercised.

Passionate about helping your child and promoting lifelong learning?

If our learning muscles are not exercised, through lack of opportunity or encouragement, they will not grow and can easily wither and fall into disuse.

If you are keen to help your child become more self-aware as a learner, to develop habits of a successful learner and to understand that they can continually build their learning power, please read on!

Top tips 

Homework can be a challenge for learners small and big. Parents can help by considering the distractions within the learning environment. 

Think carefully about where and when it might be most helpful for your child to undertake their homework. Consider the internal distractions, such as hunger, tiredness, emotions and fear of failure. Put strategies/schedules into place to overcome these barriers. Give them time to talk about situations that are bothering them and allow them time to deal with emotions before settling to a task. Depending on the age of your child, talk about what you do to manage your distractions.

  • A refreshment break?
  • Music on or off?
  • Physical activity?
  • A change of room?
  • Breathing exercises?     

The Learning Muscles     


Being ready, willing and able to LOCK ON TO LEARNING

  • Absorption Learning Muscle; you become engrossed in what you are doing; you are unaware of time passing
  • Managing Distraction Learning Muscle; you know what distracts you, you try to minimise distractions, you settle back quickly after an interuption
  • Noticing Learning Muscle; you notice how things look, what they are made of, or how they behave, you can identify significant detail
  • Perseverance Learning Muscle; you are not put off by being stuck, you keep on going despite difficulties and find ways to overcome them, you recognise that learning can be a struggle. 


Being ready, willing and able to become MORE STRATEGIC ABOUT LEARNING

  • Planning Learning Muscle; you think about what you want to get out of learning, you plan the steps you might take, you access resources you may need
  • Revising Learning Muscle; you are ready to revise your plans as you go along, monitor how things are going, change your plans when you have had a better idea
  • Distilling Learning Muscle; you mull over experiences, draw out useful lessons from experiences, think about where else you might use these lessons
  • Meta-Learning Muscle; you are interested in how you learn as an individual, know your strengths and weaknesses as a learner, are interested in becoming a better learner    


Being ready, willing and able to LEARN IN DIFFERENT WAYS

  • Questioning Learning Muscle; you are curious about things and people, you often wonder why, you play with ideas, asking "How come?" and "What if?"
  • Making Links Learning Muscle; you look for connections between experiences or ideas, you find pleasure in seeing how things fit together, you make patterns
  • Imagining Learning Muscle; you picture how things might look, sound, feel, be; you let your mind explore and play with possibilities and ideas
  • Reasoning Learning Muscle; you create logical arguments, you deduce what might happen, you look for evidence


Being ready, willing and able to LEARN ALONE AND WITH OTHERS

  • Interdependence Learning Muscle; you know how much interaction you need with others to assist your learning, you make informed choices about working on your own or with others
  • Collaboration Learning Muscle; you manage your feelings when working with others, you understand the ground rules of team work, you are able to work effectively as part of a pair or team
  • Empathy and Listening Learning Muscle; you put yourself in other people's shoes to see the world from their point of view, show you are listening by eye contact and body language, hear feelings and thoughts behind someone's words
  • Imitation Learning Muscle; you are ready to learn from others, notice the approach and detail of how others do things

At Sunnyfields, our whole school ethos is one of encouraging success and building aspirations. All staff have high expectations of learners, believing that everyone has something to offer and the capability of rising to the challenge. We reinforce this by encouraging learners to reflect on how and why a success, however small or large can be achieved.