Part 2, Increasing ability
Recalling Part 1 of this series, we talked about Dr. BJ Fogg’s behavior model that states behavior happens when motivation, ability, and a trigger occur at the same time.
B(behavior) = M(motivation)+A(ability)+T(trigger)
Last time we covered triggering. This time we’ll be discussing ability.
Your ability to do something can be thought of as how hard or easy it is for you to perform that task. It also includes ALL the steps required in doing the task. Let’s look at an example.
Task: Do problems 10-20 on page 3 of your math book.
Steps for doing the task:
- Get the math book
- Get paper
- Get pencil
- Make sure pencil is sharp enough
- Find a place to sit at a desk, table, floor, etc
- Put the math book, paper, and pencil on the desk, table, floor, etc
- Remember what the assignment is
- Open the math book to page 3
- Identify problems 10-20
- Do the math problems
- Concentrate and stay on task
As simple as most of these sound they’re all little tasks that require effort from your child. Each one saps willpower and focus.
Your goal is to reduce the overall cognitive load (how much mental effort it takes) of this assignment so the majority of your child’s willpower is focused on the specific task you want completed: Do the math problems on pages 10-20.
Here are four tips for making the task easier to do thereby increasing the ability to perform the task.
Note: I’m assuming your child already knows how to do the assignment. And even if they dont, this will still help.
Do all the prep work
This can be great for younger kids. You simply do everything except the math problems. You gather the book, paper, and pencil. You identify the place at the table by putting them all there. You open the book to page 3. You circle the problems to be done.
Designate an unchanging location where all the materials are kept
If you can find a good “home” for the book, paper, and pencil that is within reach of your child, then the behavior of getting the materials can become an automatic habit. It is vitally important that this location remains constant, is accessible, and the materials are returned after the task is complete. When these steps of the task become habitual they won’t demand focused concentration.
Designate a place to do the task
Again, this should be one less thing your kid has to think about. They should know by habit which spot is theirs to go do their work. IF your child is free spirited and wants to go do the work outside or somewhere else, that’s fine. The point of this is that he or she shouldn’t have to expend energy wondering or searching for a proper place to work.
Staying focused is difficult for anyone, especially the fired-up energy balls known as children. Do whatever you can to eliminate distractions so all their energy can be focused on the task at hand. This goes will with the previous tip.
All of this is something you can perfect over time. Don’t stress about getting it ALL right, right away. Any progress is good progress.
Just the fact that your child is learning at home is a huge opportunity that increases their ability to get their tasks done. They have a beautiful, caring, 100%-unconditional-loving, teacher right there with them all the time!
Here’s to an easier day!
P.S. I’m sure you have even more ways of making it easier for your kids to do their work so feel free to share them with us on our Facebook page.