It is the nature of human life to have to repeat things over and over to achieve lasting success. In order to become fit we must exercise daily, not just once. To develop a new habit of getting up early we must keep doing it every day until it becomes automatic. To become a great piano player we must practise regularly, and keep up the practice so as not to lose the skill, once attained. To learn to be a better listener we must strive to listen well in every conversation, from now on.
Most children thrive with structure and routine. Consistency is crucial to success, from early years where children learn expectations and ‘how we do things’ through to the end of high school, where students need daily study routines to get through the high quantities of content they are required to absorb. Consistency in learning is both about fostering good habits in the learner and providing an environment that is consistent, including regular teachers, lesson structures and opportunities to apply concepts and to practise skills.
The safety of structured, consistent learning
Students scheduled for regular 1-to-1 or small group tuition enjoy what is essentially a structured ‘coaching’ environment, not unlike an athlete’s coach: there’s the routine of a teacher they get to know, helping them through their school work challenges and consistently checking on them… this consistent experience provides a ‘safety net’ and guide that for some, remain a support right through their schooling years.
Consistency v cramming
Week-by-week, consistent learning habits are a much better approach to simply cramming before an exam. Exam questions are often designed to try to trip up the student by providing an unfamiliar context in which to apply concepts and skills; at the very least there is a time pressure in an exam that is not usually present during class time, stretching the student’s ability. Deep learning that is achieved through layering concepts and skills over time is important to succeed in these challenges.
The path to consistency is lined with rewards
Striving for consistency offers many benefits along the path to success, according to a report by the Leadership Society of Arizona summarising results of studies on consistency:
- Consistent action allows us to measure progress
- Consistent practices keep you accountable and build discipline
- Consistency of action helps build trust from others
- Consistency minimises mistakes and increases productivity
Simple steps to consistency in learning
The authors offer simple steps to help us be more consistent, which apply well to learners:
- Simplify routines and clear ‘clutter’
- Focus on one new habit or skill at a time, where possible
- Measure progress
- Ask for help
- Form a routine
These are easy steps to reinforce in learning environments and at home. It’s important too to communicate with children that consistency is hard for adults and children alike – we are all always learning and trying to be a better version of ourselves! Talking about our efforts in consistency together can increase motivation to keep trying.