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Feb 12, 2019 |
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“I can’t! This is too hard! I’m never going to get it.” Most educators have heard these phrases. They’re the words of a learner who has low self-efficacy. Self-efficacy, a person’s perception of whether they are capable of success in a particular task, influences motivation, endurance and ultimately, success.

As practitioners, we value the impact of self-efficacy on the success of the families we serve. All parents want to help their children succeed--in school and in life. Many, however, believe they lack the skills and knowledge to do so. As federal law directs schools to build parent capacity for involvement in education, promoting parents’ self-efficacy in supporting their children’s learning must be a primary focus of any family-centered instructional plan.

A 2012 NCFL study examined seven high-performing Toyota Family Literacy Programs (TFLP) across the United States. In this study, we see the positive impact of TFLPs on parents’ self-efficacy. The study found that TFLP parents demonstrated increased confidence in their abilities to support their children’s learning and heightened involvement in school programming.

The multigenerational nature of learning includes the impact on self-efficacy. It should be no surprise that increased self-efficacy in TFLP parents to support learning led to improved self-efficacy in their children to learn. Children whose parents took part in one of these seven high-performing TFLPs demonstrated increased confidence and academic achievement, alongside their parents, as reported by their teachers.

How can educators target self-efficacy? Some would say it’s one element that can’t be taught. The NCFL study found that TFLP instruction did, in fact, increase self-efficacy in both parents and children. Five instructional strategies to positively impact self-efficacy are:

  • Metacognition. Teach family members to understand their own knowledge and thought processes.
  • High Expectations. Hold parents to high standards and encourage them to do the same for their children.
  • Goal-Setting. Oversee multigenerational learners as they create realistic, actionable, and measurable goals.
  • Scaffolding. Model skills and support families through opportunities for success.
  • Recognizing and Reinforcing Success. Acknowledge achievements and identify the strategies learners used to reach success.

It’s important to note that these strategies are not intended to be used in a vacuum. Rather, they build on and complement each other in successful family-centered instruction. Stay tuned as we explore each of these strategies for promoting self-efficacy in more depth.

What strategies can you add to our list? Drop them in the comments below.


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NCFL Partners

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Toyota, one of the nation's most successful corporations, began a partnership with NCFL in 1991. In addition to a commitment of more than $50 million, Toyota has also contributed a wealth of in-kind support — including advertising, planning and management expertise — to form one of the most progressive corporate/nonprofit partnerships in the nation.

Three major programs have been developed through the Toyota partnership based on the family literacy model of parents and children learning together. These models have influenced federal and state legislation, leveraged local dollars to support family literacy and led to successful programs being replicated across the country.

Read more about Toyota's commitment to communities

William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust

NCFL received its very first donation in 1989 from the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust to promote and implement family literacy programming, first in Kentucky and North Carolina and later nationwide. The Kenan Family Literacy Model in part laid the groundwork for 30 years of subsequent family literacy and family learning programming developed by NCFL.

Kenan has continued to support NCFL’s place-based family literacy programs since our inception. Most recently, it has invested in our organization’s Sharon Darling Innovation Fund, which will launch emerging ideas and programmatic evolutions in the multigenerational learning space.

Learn more about the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust

Dollar General Literacy Foundation

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation began partnering with NCFL in 2006. A signature effort of this partnership is the National Literacy Directory, a resource that launched in 2010 and strives to guide potential students and volunteers to literacy services, community education programs, and testing centers in their communities.

The National Literacy Directory contains over 10,000 educational agencies located across the United States and has a dedicated toll-free number to help support those wanting to pursue educational opportunities in their communities.

Dollar General also provides support for development of NCFL’s innovative family learning resources centered on financial literacy and Parent and Child Together (PACT) Time®.

Learn more about the Dollar General Literacy Foundation

PNC Grow Up Great

PNC Grow Up Great believes deeply in the power of high-quality early childhood education and provides innovative opportunities that assist families, educators and community organizations to enhance children's learning and development.

PNC Grow Up Great has partnered with NCFL since 1994, most recently in Louisville, Kentucky, to support Say & Play with Words, our pre-Kindergarten vocabulary-building initiative.

NCFL's work is also featured on the PNC Grow Up Great Lesson Center website. The Lesson Center includes over 100 free, high-quality preschool lesson plans and research-based instructional techniques and strategies. All lesson plans contain Home/School Connections printouts, in English and Spanish, to help families extend and reinforce the learning at home.

Learn more about PNC Grow Up Great

U.S. Department of Education

Initiated through the U.S. Department of Education in 2018, the Statewide Family Engagement Centers (SFEC) program provides 12 grantees and 13 states with five-year, $5 million grants to promote and implement systemic evidenced-based family engagement strategies. NCFL was selected to lead SFECs in two states, Arizona and Nebraska, and is a primary partner for two other SFECs in Kentucky and Maryland/Pennsylvania. 

The SFECs work to support family engagement through state- and local-level agencies while providing both professional development to school districts and direct services to families related to children’s academic outcomes and overall well-being.

Learn more about the U.S. Department of Education

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

NCFL was named a recipient of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s "Voices for Economic Opportunity Grand Challenge," which seeks to elevate diverse voices in order to broaden the conversation about the issues inhibiting economic mobility and generate deeper awareness along with actionable understanding. NCFL will develop and launch a podcast series that will highlight the remarkable stories of low-income, diverse families across the U.S. who have improved their communities through Family Service Learning.

Foundation Website