How do we create environments to maximize the learning potential of our children? As stated in my previous blog post, most behaviors are shaped from the environment that surrounds them, be it something that happens before the behavior occurs (antecedents), or something that happens after the behavior occurs (consequences). Believe it or not, we can actually shape behavior to maximize learner potential if we are aware of the environmental factors that surround them, and then use that information to change the learner’s environment!
Here's an example that revolves around completing school work. Your son or daughter just came home from a long day at school, and depending on their age, they may also have 1-2 hours of homework ahead of them. How do we create an environment of success to increase their learning during homework time? The first thing is we can look at the antecedents that could potentially occur before completing homework, including the physical space or physical state of the child. Are they hungry? Did they just finish practice for sports or a club? Instead of reminding them as soon as they come in the door they need to complete their homework and 10-15 other tasks around the house, greet them, ask them if they need anything, and provide them with that need/want. Once that need/want is met, create a visual checklist with them so that they can see what your expectations are for the rest of the day. They should have a part in creating the checklist, so that you are shaping learning organization skills.
On the checklist, you should include things that they would prefer doing as well as things that they do not prefer to do. The preferred tasks should be mixed in with the non-preferred, so that they have motivation to complete the non-preferred task before the preferred. If they start to complain about completing the non-preferred task, now you can redirect their attention back to the checklist to say “If we complete this now, as soon as you are done, we can do the “insert preferred task” In this scenario, you are shaping organization skills, and you are creating an environment to maximize learning potential!
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