If the first ingredient in the learning process is mental, then the second ingredient is physiological. It’s about focus, concentration and effort. It’s also about routines, rituals and discipline.

Some things you learn without enormous effort. They come naturally to you or you learn without even thinking about that you are learning. Most of the things you learn in school, however, need your focused attention.

I could learn sports statistics easily because I was interested, but found math and my research courses in statistical methods to be a labyrinth of confusion. The only way to get through it was total focus and great determination – a combination of the mental and physiological aspects of learning.

A lot has to do with teaching study skills – knowing how to study and to create routines for studying. Routines are about the when, where and how to study, for example, the same time and place and having the right materials in place.

Parents have a great responsibility, but schools have even a greater responsibility because we know all parents are not able to give their children study skills and routines.

It would be nice to put that textbook under your pillow at night and wake up fluent in another language or having memorized that passage in the biology or history book, but – as yet – learning doesn’t work that way. Learning is most often a consequence of disciplined practice. Focus. Effort. Concentration. It’s not just a matter of determination, it’s also about establishing effective routines and habits.