Where is your Goldilocks Zone?

by | Feb 1, 2024 | 0 comments

Where is your Goldilocks Zone?

Do you know where your goldilocks zone is when it comes to learning? Your goldilocks zone is the “sweet spot” when it comes to learning. Your learning task is not too hard, it is not too easy, it is “just right”. Just like the fairytale when goldilocks eats the porridge, sleeps in the beds and sits on the chairs. For example, she chose to sit on the chair that was not too hard, not too soft but “just right”.

If a learning task feels comfortable and unchallenging the student might be in their comfort zone. The tasks in this zone are easy, can be boring and the student feels comfortable with their knowledge and skill level.  The student might easily get distracted, might disengage with the task at hand and feel de-motivated. They are also making very little progress with their learning.

If you recognize that you are a student in their comfort zone when it comes to your learning, consider the following self-reflective questions:

  • When last did you feel sufficiently challenged by your learning tasks or study?
  • What are the subjects or learning task you are avoiding so you can stay in your comfort zone?

It feels safe to stay in our comfort zone of learning. However further learning will happen outside your comfort zone. Stepping outside your comfort learning zone will feel challenging at the beginning. When you learn any new task, it feels difficult at the beginning. Consider learning to drive a car. At the beginning there is so much to think about and remember. As you progress and practice repeatedly, it becomes much easier and automatic.

If the learning task is too hard the student might feel stressed and frustrated. This is called the panic zone. The learning tasks in this zone are pitched too high and can stir up a negative reaction in the student. Some reasons for being in the panic zone might include having missed some classes or lectures. Perhaps you have bypassed the course basics and have not got a deep understanding of the nuts and bolts of the topic. This will result in an overall lack of confidence. When you are in the panic zone, it is difficult to truly engage in any learning.

Consider the following self-reflective questions:

  • What options are available to you to go from the panic zone to the learning zone?
  • What are the small steps you can take to relieve your stress and panic when it comes to your learning?

When the brain is stretched, you are in the learning zone. This the “Goldilocks Zone”, not too easy, not too hard, it’s just right. The tasks provide the right level of challenge, and you may feel motivated, excited, and sufficiently stretched. When your brain is challenged just the right amount, it can feel hard. That is good. That means your brain is growing and you are getting a deep understanding of the topics at hand.

Click on the link below to get a visual of the characteristics of the various different zones.

Zone of Proximal Development


Webb, J., “The Metacognition Handbook” (2021), John Catt Educational Ltd.