Let's pull back the curtain and look at flight training from the point of view of your instructor. Flight lessons are built around a set of principles known as the Principles of Learning. These principles help teachers guide students towards specific learning goals. But one principle is almost completely up to you, the student.
The principle of readiness simply states that learning won't take place until the student is good and ready! This is usually the biggest hurdle for any teacher, from grade school all the way to the cockpit.
Modern learning theory tells us that most of Maslow's hierarchy of human needs needs to be satisfied before learning can occur.
On the most basic level, readiness to learn depends upon your physical needs. The takeaway here is to show up well-rested and properly fed. It's hard to stay focused on complicated maneuver profiles when you're tired and hungry. It's not a bad idea to hit the bathroom on the way to the classroom either.
An often overlooked factor is the student's subconscious need for safety. Think about that if you're shopping for a flight school. Do you feelsafe in that school's environment? If not, then you and your instructor will be up against a very powerful barrier to learning.
Another huge factor in the learning process is the student's self-concept. Learning to fly is both rewarding and challenging. For every achievement, there is the threat of a confidence-shattering low. What students don't realize is that their confidence can make or break the learning process. As such, learning can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you approach each lesson with confidence and the understanding that you can do it, then it's going to be a good day. Come to the airport with the opposite attitude and you're just asking for trouble.
Beyond basic human needs, readiness becomes a question of motivation. Slumps in learning usually coincide with disinterest, which might be a big reason new pilots struggle with topics like aerodynamics or regulations.
It's easy to become disinterested when we fail to see the importance of a lesson. Ground reference maneuvers come to mind. There doesn't seem to be much of a point to flying neat little S-turns in the sky, but the skills gained will become critical building blocks for other, more interesting flight lessons.
Your flight instructor looks at the whole training process like a box of Legos. Each lesson is a building block. Though they may seem unrelated, and perhaps even unimportant, these skills will all come together to make you a proficient pilot.
When it comes to the principle of readiness, you are the deciding factor. Attitude is everything, and you can help your instructor teach you by showing up physically and mentally ready to learn.