Finding joy of learning: 5 tips to make learning joyful for your students

”What you learn without joy, you forget without grief”– Finnish proverb

Sometimes joy of learning is mistaken for being entertained at school. However, that is not at all what joy of learning is about; it is about finding the joy of discovery and the feeling of achievement in tasks that correspond to the skill level of the students and in which the students have the ability to affect their own learning. Actively working towards a goal generates joyful learning both during and after achieving that goal.

In the early years, play offers a channel to find joy of learning. For small children, playing is a meaningful and important activity as it develops cognitive and social skills. Joy of learning, in all ages, happens in a free environment so that the students can make choices freely and enjoy autonomy. It also needs time and a bit of idleness. In a hasty environment, there is no time to enjoy learning.

To find joy of learning, the tasks need to be adjusted to the student’s abilities. Then the students can truly commit to the task and reach a state of flow. There is also a social dimension to the joy of learning; joy shared with others is joy multiplied. Active and collaborative methods, thus, enhance joy of learning. Students also have to be able to participate in decision-making about their own learning.

The teacher’s role is to build an environment – both physical and emotional – that supports each student to find success, how ever small it may be, in the learning situations. Joy of learning does not need grand and wide-arching plans. There are small steps you can take to increase your students’ joy:

  1. Along with greater goals, plan small intermediate goals for the students. This will enhance their feeling of achievement.
  2. Make time for free play during the day. Make sure you provide different stimuli and informational content without restricting the play too much.
  3. Provide freedom and choice for your students. You set the limits within which your students can be free and make choices about their learning. They don’t need to be big choices. You can, for example, offer them a choice of doing tasks behind the desk or on the floor.
  4. Support the students’ learning by offering them individual support.
  5. Use methods that are collaborative and active. Participation and social sharing will engage the students in the tasks.

Joy of learning is one of the key principles of KOULU’s operations. For example, in our Teach Like a Finn! teacher training programme (TLF), joy of learning is integrated in all training modules. In addition, the programme includes a module about student motivation and participation which touches upon these same themes and offers practical tools for implementing them.

If you want to learn more about joy of learning or TLF, please contact us at