Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Self-efficacy and learning

There are four ways that self-efficacy affects children's behavior and learning. The first way is through the activities children choose to do. Children choose activities they believe they can do and avoid those they think they won't be good at. This is why it is important to let children choose what activities they want to do and to let them try activities they choose. Children won't try to do something they think they can't do, so even though you as the parent may think the child has chosen an activity they can't do, let them try it. No harm can come from allowing a child to try something and I believe it's better to allow children to try to accomplish something even if they fail, than to tell them from the beginning it's something they can't do.

The second way self-efficacy affects children's behavior and learning is through goals. When children have high self-efficacy they set high goals. For example, if a child knows they are good at spelling they'll set high goals in that area such as passing all of their spelling tests or trying out for the spelling bee. Even if the child doesn't make the spelling bee the child will have set and reached their goal of trying out for it.

The third way self-efficacy affects children's behavior and learning is through effort and persistence. When children  work on an activity they have high self-efficacy in they'll apply more effort and be more persistent when obstacles arise. For example, if a child knows they are better at tennis than soccer they'll put more effort into becoming good at tennis rather than soccer. Where a child knows they're better at tennis than soccer when they lose a match or have a bad practice they'll come back and try again and be persistent at being better and meeting their goals. They'll work harder and put the effort into becoming better and doing better at their next practice and match.

The last way self-efficacy affects behavior and learning is in learning and achievement. It's important for children to have a realistic sense of their abilities to accomplish an activity. This helps them know how hard an activity will be for them and how much effort they need to put into an activity and where they may need to ask for help. It helps children know what activities are challenging for them and require their skills to be tested. However, it also helps children grow and develop a positive self-efficacy because they see for themselves they can accomplish activities that are hard for them. For example, if a child knows they aren't very good at science and they have a science project they need to complete they can put their best effort into the project and learn the new skills it will teach them, hone old ones and it will help develop a positive self-efficacy as they accomplish something that was difficult.  Regardless of how the science project turns out the child has learned something about themselves that has developed their self-efficacy.

Developing self-efficacy in children is hard for parents to do. It's hard for parents to see their children struggle and it's easier to do an activity for them. However, to do things for them won't teach the child to be persistent, try, and the child won't learn anything other than the activity is something they can't do. Where it's hard to see children fail it's important to let them and to let them try so they learn to do hard things and reap the reward that comes from accomplishing something hard. Help them develop a positive self-efficacy by encouraging them, guiding them and helping when their frustration level hits the point of needing help and guidance. Self-efficacy is hard to develop but something that will help children succeed in life.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Factors of self-efficacy

Self-efficacy is the ability and willingness to try a task. Five factors of self-efficacy are experience, cultural expectations, gender roles, support for effort and risk taking. The experiences children have are different for each child. Some children grow up experiencing the ability to travel, some children grow up with the experience of volunteering at different events all year long. No matter what a child's experience is though, their experiences effect their self-efficacy. For example, a child may have the ability to and willingness to learn how to make cupcakes, however, if there isn't enough money to buy the ingredients for this type of luxury this experience effects their self-efficacy because the child has to either find a way to get the ingredients and learn how to make cupcakes or accept this isn't a task they will be able to learn until the ingredients can be afforded.

The United States is becoming more culturally diverse. Families bring their cultures with them and raise their children in the same culture they would have if they had stayed in their homeland. Culture expectations can affect a child's self-efficacy as their parents teach them what is culturally expected for them. For example, it is culturally excepted in the U.S for parents to have more than one child, however, in China it is culturally expected to have only one. Therefore, a child in the U.S. may have their self-efficacy determined by culture because where there is more than one child in a family, a child may have to limit the activities they learn to do to only one-such as learning how to play the piano or tennis. However, where a child in China is the only child in the family they may be able to learn three activities that are done by children in China.

Gender roles can affect a child's self-efficacy because even though all children have the ability and willingness to try an activity, society may be telling the child it isn't something they can do because of their gender. For example, for a long time in the U.S. society has told women they can't be senators, president of the U.S. etc. We now have the most women in congress than we ever have. Gender roles should never define what a person should or can do. We should be teaching our children anything is possible if they're willing to put the effort in.

Support for effort effects a child's self-efficacy because if there is no support for the child to learn an activity, the willingness may dissolve even though the ability is there. For example, if a child wants to learn how to ski but is no support from their parents to learn this activity, the ability will always be there but the willingness may not be because the child doesn't have the support of the parents to take them to lessons, to pay for them or to teach them themselves. However, if parents support their children in their effort to learn something new and take the child to ski lessons and pays for them or takes the time and puts in the effort to teach their child themselves, the support the child needs to learn how to ski is present and a child can accomplish a goal because they have the support they need to accomplish it.

Children like to take risks. What is important is that parents teach children to take risks that are appropriate. For example, it's not an appropriate risk to climb on the roof of the house and see how far they can jump. However, it is appropriate to put the child in track and field and have them learn pole vaulting. Risk taking effects a child's self-efficacy because a parent can either support the risks their children want to take and make sure those risks are done in a safe environment or a parent can tell their children they're incapable and not allow them to take even appropriate risks because of dangers that may or may not be present.

It is important for parents to develop self-efficacy in their children and allow them to learn how to do certain activities. A parent can guide a child to help them pick activities that are appropriate by helping them choose activities in areas that the parents know they are good at. For example, if a child is always tumbling and jumping the parents can guide the child into thinking about doing gymnastics. It's important for parents to let their children learn new things so they teach their children the world is a safe place, not a place to be feared. Allowing children to learn new things will also help develop the child's talents and help them know what skills they are good at so they know where to focus when it comes time to go to college and think of a career.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Building autonomy part 2

Sorry it's been a while since my last post. The company I had internet with went out of business and I had to find a new company and wait until I could get internet hooked up with my new internet carrier. In my last post I talked about building autonomy and mentioned I would discuss steps to build autonomy in a child in my next post. So... here are three steps to build autonomy in a child.

Every child struggles to build autonomy. One way a parent can recognize their children are struggling with the development of autonomy is to provide training, resources, modeling and supervision to children as they develop autonomy. The way children struggle to develop autonomy is different. Some children are very independent and don't want much help from their parents as they try to figure out how to do a task such as putting their shoes on. Other children will ask for the help that they need. A parent models developing autonomy by learning how to do new things themselves and has their children see the effort they put into learning something new.  To acknowledge that a child wants to figure out a problem (such as how to put their shoes on) for themselves and allowing them to is a parent recognizing a child's struggle for autonomy. Where putting shoes on requires little supervision, a child wanting to learn how to make brownies does. This requires a parent's supervision as a child may not be old enough to use the oven themselves yet. A parent develops autonomy as a parent lets a child hit the button to warm the oven to the temperature the brownies need to be cooked at. They provide resources as they get the ingredients for the brownies and supervision to use the oven correctly.

A second way to recognize that children are struggling to develop autonomy is to learn best practices for supporting the development of autonomy in children. To learn best practices for supporting the development of autonomy in children is to allow children to do things for themselves. Children want to learn how to put the shapes in the shape sorter and how to build with Legos etc. Sure it will take them longer to do it, however, they're learning important skills that will help them later in life as they learn to do things for themselves and solve the problem of where each shape goes. When a parent allows a child to figure these things out for themselves the parent is teaching the child they can do anything and that they as the parent will teach them how to build a building with the Legos or how to do anything else the child needs or wants to learn how to do for themselves.

The last way a parent can recognize that their children are struggling to develop autonomy is to learn how to communicate with their children in order to support the development of autonomy. A parent does this by giving their children choices such as allowing the child to  decide whether they do their homework before or after dinner. It also means helping children when the parent sees that they're frustrated. For example, a child may be getting frustrated because they can't get the shapes in the shape sorter. The parent helps a child develop autonomy through communicating with the child by telling the child which way to turn it and showing and explaining to them what they may be doing 'wrong' and how to fix it.

A parents major task in developing autonomy is to help children be safe and learn appropriate social and behavior skills. Parents should be encouraging a child's effort to try something, not shaming them. A parent should be developing autonomy by teaching children how to do things so that they can do the activity themselves next time, not destroying their autonomy by teaching them they are incapable.