Requisites for Learning: The 5 Rs

Requisites for Learning: The 5 Rs

Education October 12, 2021 / By Joanne Foster, EdD
Requisites for Learning: The 5 Rs

Certain principles of “best practice” foster high-level learning outcomes, at home and school. These include five Rs—being resourceful, reasonable, receptive to changes, respectful of students’ feelings and abilities, and responsive to their questions. Find out more.

There’s much controversy about what a top-notch education should look like. However, if we cut to the chase, it makes good sense to provide a targeted learning match for each child, regardless of age, grade level, subject area, program, or if they’ve qualified for special programming by way of a designated label or categorization of some sort. EVERY child is entitled to an education that is commensurate with their abilities—over time, across domains, and with the necessary supports in place.

This is not merely an ideal. It is doable.

A solid and defensible “Optimal Match” approach is the way to go. This involves offering children and teens learning opportunities that are well-suited to what they need and want to know, in ways that are fair, flexible, and motivating, and that take into account individual social, emotional, academic, and physical factors. This approach facilitates children’s engagement, intelligence-building, creative expression, and fulfillment, whether at school, home, or elsewhere.

The five Rs noted above (and in Being Smart about Gifted Learning) provide a helpful framework for parents seeking to support such learning processes in the context of family life.

Reinforcing Each R For Learning

Being Resourceful

“The parenting pendulum is always swinging.” ~ ABCs of Raising Smarter Kids, p. 67.

Parents who are well-informed are better positioned to nurture high-level outcomes in children. Information-gathering should be ongoing because life never stays the same. Find out all you can about child development and learning from a variety of different sources, and as it relates to your own set of family circumstances. Be proactive about gathering information, and stay attuned to what’s happening locally and across broader networks. Talk with others whom you trust. Ask questions, listen, weigh answers, and apply common sense. Demonstrating resourcefulness provides a valuable lesson for children.

Being Reasonable

“The most suitable learning opportunities meet children’s individual and diverse learning needs; provisions will vary from one person to the next on a situational and subject-by-subject basis.” ~ ABCs of Raising Smarter Kids, p. 52.

Expectations set for or with kids should be fitting and relevant. Motivating elements—for example, fun, interest, creativity, excitement, appropriate challenge, use of technology, and manageability—stimulate engagement and learning. (Check out the brain-building experiences noted in Beyond Intelligence, pp. 55-56.)

Being Receptive To Changes

Encourage children to think, anticipate, monitor their own progress, and reflect on options and outcomes. This will foster their adaptability, and help them to clarify expectations, consolidate ideas, and explore their attitudes and assumptions. Model open channels of communication, collaboration, creative problem-solving, determination, and a willingness to entertain possibilities and sophisticated concepts. All of this will enable kids to tackle changes and transition times with greater self-assurance, resilience, and pride.

Being Respectful

“Talk with children, engage them in meaningful and respectful dialogue, remain observant, and be emotionally available and open to their questions. This will encourage them to demonstrate what they’re thinking about and learning, and to discover what they don’t yet understand.” ~ Being Smart about Gifted Learning, p. 89.

Respect for children’s feelings and abilities entails being honest, empathic, and patient. Listen with intent to understand, and convey reassurance as required—while recognizing that kids are still growing and figuring things out. A respectful manner sets a framework for further momentum and meaningful learning.

Being Responsive

Children learn by way of curiosity and investigation—fueled by effort. Invite them to ask questions as they engage with material, experiences, and other people. Their inquiries will give indicators of where they are conceptually. Reflect on their questions, concerns, learning needs, and ideas. Help children continue to invest in their own learning by giving guidance, offering to discover answers together, and leading them to find answers themselves. These strategies will enhance their levels of knowledge, creative expression, and confidence.

Last Words About Learning

Each child’s learning trajectory is unique and must be looked at in its own context, in terms of readiness and individuality. Research in various disciplines (such as child development, educational psychology, and neurological science) continues to provide valuable information about how children learn, and how to support them, and resources are widely accessible for any parent who seeks to use them. The old-fashioned “3 Rs” (reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic) represent a triumvirate that will always matter, but the “5 Rs” are a modern-day equivalent of a blueprint for successful learning—at home, and wherever else it occurs.

About the Author

Dr. Joanne Foster is a gifted education specialist, and the award-winning author of several books, including the 3rdedition of Being Smart Being Smart about Gifted Learning: Empowering Parents and Kids Through Challenge and Change (co-authored with Dona Matthews, published by Gifted Unlimited LLC., 2021. For additional resources on creativity, learning, productivity, children’s well-being, and more go to

Being Smart about Gifted Learning provides up-to-date perspectives so that parents, grandparents, and teachers have current knowledge about how to support the development of giftedness, creativity, and talent in the children and teens in their lives. Dr. Dona Matthews and Dr. Joanne Foster address pressing questions and concerns, and share hundreds of resources in this third edition of their award-winning book. The authors focus on helping families find a healthy balance that will nurture children’s exceptional abilities, optimal development, and well-being. Being Smart about Gifted Learning can be ordered here at Gifted Unlimited LLC. (Coming fall, 2021.)

“This tremendous book describes how gifted education resources can be applied to nurturing talent broadly and inclusively across the population. The Optimal Match approach demystifies understandings of giftedness, and brings common sense to conceptions of meaningful learning at home, school, and elsewhere.”

~ Scott Barry Kaufman, Ph.D., Columbia University

This book will prompt re-examination of many long-held beliefs!”

~ Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., Stanford University

“Matthews and Foster highlight the importance of an appropriate education for gifted and talented students with the concept of an optimal match between students and their learning environments…The ideas in this book represent an important conceptual framing that will help gifted and talented programs serve broader and more diverse populations of students.”

~ Frank Worrell, Ph.D., U C Berkeley, American Psychology Association President-Elect, 2022.

“Drs. Matthews and Foster have given us a comprehensive, intelligently designed and brilliantly crafted book written with extraordinary understanding and compassion.

~ Felice Kaufmann, Ph.D., U.S. Presidential Scholar

“Rich with examples, this book highlights the importance of an optimal match between challenging and engaging school and home experiences, and opportunities to develop gifts and talents! A practical, thoughtful contribution by two leading experts!”

~ Sally M. Reis, Ph.D., University of Connecticut

comments powered by Disqus