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Feb 12, 2019 |

“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

Toyota Family Learning Program

Toyota, one of the nation's most successful corporations, began a partnership with NCFL in 1991. In addition to a commitment of more than $35 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

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 reach the 35.7 million adults ages 18-64 who do not have a high school diploma by guiding them to better-paying, more stable jobs.

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®.

Go to Dollar General Literacy Foundation's website

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 to advance early literacy and learning resources for vulnerable families. Current efforts supported by PNC include a collaborative initiative in two at-risk Detroit communities that engages families to support vocabulary development for children under age 5.

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.

PNC Grow Up Great

W.K. Kellogg Foundation

NCFL has partnered with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation since January 2016. The Foundation is currently supporting a dynamic two-generation family engagement initiative that expands NCFL's Family Learning model into select Head Start programs nationwide. NCFL's model presents an innovative way to support Head Start programs in meeting outcomes aligned with the Parent, Family, and Community Engagement Framework.

Visit the Foundation website

Better World Books

Better World Books selected NCFL as its domestic literacy partner in 2005 and has raised more than $1 million to support NCFL’s work and donated more than $15 million to support literacy and education efforts worldwide. Better World Books is a triple-bottom-line online bookstore, working equally for people, planet and profit. Each book purchased powers literacy across the world.

Better World Books’ support of NCFL has provided books and workshops to families after Hurricane Katrina, donated large book donations to literacy programs and families nationwide and fueled innovative family literacy and learning programs and resources in libraries, schools and community-based organizations. In addition to their work for literacy and education, Better World Books diverts books from landfills and offers carbon-balanced shipping.

Better World Books

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

In 2013, NCFL began a partnership with the Gates Foundation to ensure that our network of students, teachers, and families thrive among recent shifts in standards-based education. NCFL will leverage the unique strengths of our award-winning Wonderopolis® platform to build upon the growing teacher network that uses the resource for core daily instruction and as a basis for professional growth.

Foundation Website

Goodling Institute

NCFL has partnered with the Goodling Institute for Research and Family Literacy at Penn State University since 2001, working collaboratively to further research, professional development, and policy efforts for family literacy and intergenerational learning.

The work of this partnership includes, but is not limited to, a strong research strand at NCFL's national annual convening, the Families Learning Summit; advocacy for family literacy and learning to further support for and inclusion of family-focused education in new and ongoing legislation; and dissemination of the latest research, resources, information, and professional development opportunities for literacy and learning practitioners and advocates, including the Certificate in Family Literacy provided by the Goodling Institute.

Goodling Institute for Research and Family Literacy at Penn State University