Thursday, June 16, 2011

the helping behaviors of children

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The Helping Behaviors of Children

The children being observed arrived at this daycare between the hours of 8am and am. When they arrive there they are led into a room of bright colors. The walls are painted bright white with children art and posters plastered from floor to ceiling. There is a wall of portraits of the seven children and then a drawing that they did themselves of themselves. There is no TV in the room yet there is a shelf full of videos. There are three bookshelves full of children books. There are three art easels with poster paper draped over them. There are two tables that the children may sit at. The children decided that there would be one girl table and one boy table.

Around noon the observation began. The children were just finishing their paintings. The daycare provider asked them politely to finish up their last strokes and get ready to clean up. The daycare provider was the teacher, the baby-sitter and the person who handled discipline. During the observation she was the only adult in the room. On the board they had a schedule of symbols and times that they were to follow. The symbols allowed the kids to understand what was coming next, so that they would be prepared.

There were seven children in the room on that day; usually there are ten. The youngest who is not a part of the sample was six and one half months old, making the sample group a total of six. The others ranged from three to five years old. There were three boys and three girls who were observed. None of these children are related but they have been in the same daycare for a year. As the observation started the children were finishing up their art lesson and proceeding to snack time and playtime.

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When observing these children and their helping behaviors, there was an operational definition to follow. To classify a child as helping he or she must stop their own current operation, without hesitation, to assist a playmate or daycare provider with their current tasks. These children will be observed for approximately fifteen minutes. They will not speak to the observer and the observer will remain unnoticed.

The daycare provider expected the children to help with the clean up process before they went to snack and playtime. To my surprise, only three of the children were willing to help though all were expected to do so. The three children, two boys and one girl continued to paint and finally after being scolded put the paint away. The three children that were eager to help put their supplies away and cleaned their paint brushes. Then the helpful children offered help to the children whom hesitated, and washed their paintbrushes as well. When all of the art utensils were away, snack and playtime was called. The girls ran into the tiny kitchen nook and grabbed snacks for everybody and passed them out. The girls were commended for being so helpful. The positive reinforcement was the factor that kept them interested in passing out snacks. They smiled brightly when the teacher commended them.

During playtime they finished their snacks and had time to grab toys and assemble a play area. The children helped each other pick their toy of choice. This was an enjoyable task. The girls handed the boys some gender-related toys such as balls and cars. The girls also grabbed themselves some hand puppets and the puppet stage and performed a show for their teacher and playmates. The girls asked for everybody’s attention and when the boys continued to play and ignore them they forced the boys over and sat them in a semi-circle around the puppet stage. When it was time to clean up the boys put their own toys away, while the girls helped each other. The boys finished first and then watched the girls carry over the toys from their seats. The little boys wanted to be finished first rather than everyone finish together. They were proud of their quickness while the girls continued to work together to get the room back in order. The girls looked as if they enjoyed helping each other out. The girls were again verbally reinforced about the great job that they were doing by helping each other.

About two minutes left in the observation the children were called back to order and were to begin a learning task. They seemed eager to do start this assignment. They were to learn the primary colors and then the mixture of colors. The girls were eager to help the teacher pass out materials; in fact they took the basket out of her hands to pass the markers out. The girls were interested in helping while the boys were interested in starting their project. This cooperative learning group did exactly what was intended they worked together. The group worked in gender teams. If one girl helped the others decided and persisted to do the same. The boys were uninterested in helping and continued to do their own thing together.

I predicted that all the children would be more than willing to help out. I also thought that as one offered to help the others would soon follow. This similar to what was predicted. The sex of the child predicted whether or not they would help. The girls had a ringleader that always volunteered and the boys followed the oldest boy who wanted to play and go about his day without helping. The fact that worked well in my observation was my operational definition. If I could observe again I would have a bigger sample in a different environment, maybe a better-structured classroom. I would have liked to observe for an entire day, to get a better feel for the helping behaviors.

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