Crucial to children’s self-esteem is the belief that they are capable individuals who can set goals for themselves and achieve them. Children can have good concepts of self and realistic self-esteem yet not be able to succeed in school or life because they lack the ability to believe that they are capable (Bandura, 1997). Self-efficacy, like self-concept and self-esteem, is highly related to children’s later academic and social success. Children who know they can learn to read and write are those who are able to set goals for their learning and, if they fail, to try again. Schools provide children with many opportunities to experiment with ideas and materials and time to gain some kind of mastery.
You can help children perceive themselves as learners and enhance their self-efficacy through activities such as the following:
- Provide toddlers and very young children with equipment they can handle by themselves. Low coat hooks and small tables and chairs permit the youngest child to achieve some sense of mastery over self and the world. Juice can be prepared in small pitchers so 3-year-olds can fill their own glasses. In the bathroom, small fixtures and towels and soap placed within children’s reach help them be in control. Children feel they are competent when they can care for their own needs.
- Allow kindergarten and primary-grade children to continue developing a sense of mastery and self-control by encouraging them to master mechanical things, including the record player, the slide projector, or the filmstrip projector. Learning to use the computer also fosters children’s sense of competence.
- Expand primary-grade children’s understanding of the world. As children learn to read and gain information through books and other written materials, knowledge of their immediate environment, obtained through field trips and direct experiences, is expanded to knowledge of the larger community and the world.
- Provide plenty of raw materials. Raw materials force children to do the following:
- Set a goal. “What will I do with this?”
- Make plans to achieve their goal. “I’ll tape these two pieces together.”
- Monitor their progress toward achieving their goal. “That didn’t work; I’ll try. . . ”
- Experience the feelings of joy and pleasure that come from achieving a goal. “I did it. I knew I could.”
© ______ 2005, Merrill, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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