Demonstrates Consistent Effort

What does “Demonstrates consistent effort” mean?

This skill reflects a child’s ability to work through tasks toward a goal. That means handling frustration, staying focused, and not giving up. This skill is about sticking with something even when it is hard. This skill is important because it shows children that their effort matters and gives them confidence when they face challenges.

 

Demonstrates consistent effort is different from “Strives for quality work”. Strives for quality work is about children trying their best to meet adult expectations for their school work. Demonstrates consistent effort is about children working through challenges, managing frustration, and not giving up when things are difficult.

 What does this skill look like?

At Home

Laila is getting ready for school and wants to put on her own shoes. She puts her left shoe on her right foot. Her mom lets her know that she made a mistake. Laila is not discouraged and tries again to put her shoes on but still struggles. Laila doesn’t give up and eventually gets it right.

In The Classroom

Elijah starts putting a puzzle together but can’t make some pieces fit. Instead of giving up, Elijah tries a new way to put the pieces together. When one of his classmates tries to get him to play a game, he decides to stick with the puzzle instead.

Children can see the value of “Demonstrates Consistent Effort” in the book:

Whistle for Willie

For more information about this book and other books that highlight this skill, visit our READING LIST page.

TIPS FOR FAMILIES

 

How can I explain this skill to my child?

Tell your child that it is important that they learn to keep trying, even when something is difficult.  When learning something new, it is easy to feel frustrated when you can’t do it right away. If you stop trying, you will never learn. For example, learning to write your name is hard. You have to learn to write one letter at a time and sometimes it might feel like you’ll never be able to write your whole name. But if you keep trying and ask for help when you need it, you will eventually be able to do it! Remind children that even adults get frustrated and need to work hard when they are learning a new skill. Give an example of a skill that you had to work hard at until you got it right.

What are some things I can do to help my child learn this skill?

Think like Goldilocks. In a children’s story, a little girl named Goldilocks tastes three bowls of food. One is “too hot,” one is “too cold,” and one is “just right.” For children to learn how to demonstrate consistent effort, they need tasks that are hard but not too hard to work on alone. If tasks are too challenging, children will get discouraged and be less likely to keep trying. If tasks are too easy, children will get bored and stop working. Try to give your child tasks that are “just right” for their ability level.

CHILD’S ABILITY

Your child can write the letters A, B, and C and is learning to write D and E.

TOO EASY

You ask your child to write the letter A.

TOO HARD

You ask your child to write the whole alphabet.

JUST RIGHT

You ask your child to write A, B, C, D, and E. If your child  struggles to write E, let them work on it before helping.


Teach children to monitor their effort. Young children are not yet able to monitor themselves to make sure they are trying their hardest. You can introduce your child to this idea by encouraging them to think about how much effort they put into a task. Help them reflect on whether they put their best into an activity by asking them questions like:

  • How do you feel when you look at this? Does it make you feel good? Do you feel proud?
  • We are going to hang this up on the wall. Are you happy with it or do you want to try again?
  • Bring this into school to show your teacher how hard you worked. Are you excited about that?

If your child doesn’t feel proud and doesn’t want to share what they’ve done, ask them why. If they suggest that they can do better, encourage them to try again until they feel like they’ve done their best.


Show children how to talk their problems out. Learning to talk through problems is one way your child can learn how to keep trying. You can help your child learn this by showing them how you work through challenges. The next time you are struggling with something talk through it out loud. For example, while you are folding laundry, you might say: “I’m getting so angry! Folding this shirt is tricky. I want to give up, but I am not going to. OK, I’m going to take some deep breaths and try again.” When you try again, maybe mess up a few times and talk through the mistakes: “Hmm…that’s not right. Maybe, if I try this….” When you get it right, share how you feel: “I did it! I’m glad I didn’t give up.


Show children their progress. Remind your child how far they have come in learning a skill by giving them examples. This is especially helpful if they are having trouble with a new skill. For example, if your child is having trouble learning to tie her shoes, remind her how hard it was for her to learn to do something else (like dress herself in the morning). Because she worked hard and didn’t give up, she was able to learn how to dress herself and is now an expert at it. If she keeps trying to tie her shoes and doesn’t give up, she will eventually figure out how to do it! Reminding your child of their progress lets them see how working through challenges helps them grow.


How can I encourage my child when I see them trying to learn this skill?

Acknowledge your child for their efforts! For example, tell your child, “Laila, look how hard you are working to read that book!” or “You really tried your best to put that puzzle together, Elijah!” Click here for more ideas on how to encourage your child.

To download a printable PDF of the tips for this skill, click here.

TIPS FOR TEACHERS

 

How can I explain this skill to children?

Explain that it is important not to stop trying when something is difficult. For example, learning to write your name is hard. You have to learn to write one letter at a time, and sometimes it might feel like you’ll never be able to write your whole name. It is easy to feel frustrated or angry when you can’t do it right away. If you stop trying, you will never learn to write your name. If you keep working hard and ask for help when you need it, you will eventually be able to do it! Remind children that even adults get frustrated and need to work hard when they are learning a new skill. Give children an example of a skill that you had to work hard at until you got it right.

What are some examples of best practices from educational experts and fellow teachers?

Teach self-monitoring. Kindergarten children are not yet able to fully monitor themselves to gauge if they worked their hardest. You can introduce them to the idea of self-monitoring by encouraging them to think about how much effort they put into a task. Help them reflect on whether they put their best into an activity by asking them questions like:

  • How do you feel when you look at this? Does it make you feel good? Do you feel proud?
  • We are going to hang this up in the classroom. Are you happy with it or do you want to try again?
  • We are sending this home so your family can see how hard you worked. Are you excited about that?

If children don’t feel proud of what they’ve done and don’t want to share it, ask them why. If they suggest that they can do better, encourage them to try again until they feel like they’ve done their best.


Model self-talk. One of the ways children can learn to persist is by talking problems out in their heads. You can model this by talking through a problem you are facing. For example, you might say: “I’m getting so angry! Writing the number 8 is tricky. I want to give up, but I am not going to. OK, I’m going to take some deep breaths and try again.” When you try again, maybe mess up a few times, and talk through the mistakes: “Hmmm…that’s not right. Maybe, if I try this….” When you get it right, share how you feel: “I did it! I’m glad I didn’t give up.”

 It can also be useful to have a chart like the one below posted in the classroom. The questions in this chart can remind children how to talk out their problems when they are having trouble persisting at a task.

 

TALK IT OUT

Am I feeling confused or frustrated?

Am I being distracted by anyone or anything?

Am I trying my hardest?

Have I tried different ways to solve the problem?


Show children their progress. Remind children how far they have come in developing a skill by showing them examples of their progress. This can be especially helpful if they are having trouble with a new skill. For example, if a child is having trouble writing the number 8, show them other numbers they have written. Remind them how difficult it was to learn to write these other numbers and how hard they worked to do it. Because they worked hard, they are an expert at writing these numbers now and can be an expert at number 8 too! Reminding children of their progress lets them see how working through challenges helps them grow. It can also be helpful to share student progress with their families so that everyone can see how far the child has come in developing a skill.


How can I encourage children when I see them trying to learn this skill?

Acknowledge children for their efforts! For example, say, “Laila, look how hard you are working to read that book!” or “You really tried your best to put that puzzle together, Elijah!”  Click here for more ideas on how to encourage children.

To download a printable PDF of the tips for this skill, click here.

To learn more about the tips and where they came from, please visit our references page.

Developed by the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania, the School District of Philadelphia, families, and teachers. Funded by the William Penn Foundation.

 

EXCEL

These 14 skills help children Conquer Kindergarten and EXCEL in school and life. These skills assist kindergarteners who are working hard to learn their ABCs and 123s, and they support future academic achievement, healthy relationships, and career success.

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