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Teaching Efficacy to Kids: How Young is Too Young?
How young is too young to teach Efficacy to children? Dr. Melvin Chapman believes that, "If you are going to assist children at risk, you need to teach them Efficacy at a young age." Now retired from his long-time position as Executive Deputy Superintendent of the Detroit Public Schools, Dr. Chapman oversees an early education center serving students ages 3-5. He ensures that his teachers educate their children in Efficacy because, "By the time they get to second grade, they've already had three years as students." Three critical years--where their confidence can be damaged, or built up, depending on how they are taught to think about their own learning capacities.
The work of paraprofessionals at a Boston early education center further affirms that very young children can learn Efficacy. "Because they spend so much time with their kids," Efficacy Director of School Services, Barbara Logan says, "pre-school educators can infuse Efficacy into every moment they share." For example, when students are forming into neat bus lines at the end of the day, paraprofessionals can decide to praise them for "choosing their strong sides," rather than simply "being good." And instead of making judgments about how smart (or not) children are, an educator or parent trained in Efficacy might ask: "Now how did you get smarter today, honey?"
"A 3-year-old can understand what the teacher is saying," Dr. Chapman says. And following the Boston paraprofessionals' example, choosing your words carefully can help reinforce key Efficacy concepts like "Smart is something you can get," in and out of the classroom. And even if your children weren't exposed to Efficacy at an early age, Dr. Chapman's advice still holds: "You should never wait."
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This excerpt, published by Dr. Howard in Network Newsnotes: The International Network of Principals' Centers