Helping a Child Learn Based on Theories

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He stated that it is not something that has to be repeated many times, but instead, if the behaviour that you want is clearly communicated, an individual will react to a familiar stimulus (B.F. Skinner, 2008, p.1). Skinner called his theory operant conditioning. He used a system of positive and negative enforcers to help strengthen or eliminate behaviours. The use of behavioural modification means that an individual may change the consequences of behaviour in order to guide it to what is required. Skinner saw that although there would be a large task that was to be completed, it would be a better idea to break these larger steps down into small ones. This way a child could concentrate on one step at a time and be rewarded for the accomplishment of each task (The 1950s, n.d.). In the view of the behaviourists, the way to motivate a child to learn is to reinforce the behaviour you want and ignore the behaviour you do not want. As an example, you have a child who does not want to clean their room. A chart can be set up and each time a child cleans their room, they receive a positive sticker (maybe a smiling face) on the chart. When they do not, they receive a negative sticker (maybe a frowning face). In order to go to McDonald’s or get a special treat, they must have an accumulation of positive stickers. This can motivate a child to clean their room. Eventually, this will be made into a habit of course and you can gradually discontinue the stickers (according to his theory). The cognitive theorists were focused on finding out how people learned through understanding material in their environment. One of the foremost theorists in this area was Jean Piaget. He believed that children do not necessarily learn in a smooth way but in a series of stages of cognitive development. His stages include: Although many children follow this approach, many may find that they start the stages earlier than Piaget said.