For my observation I chose to survey a few students that attend after school/day care at YMCA Elmonte. YMCA elmonte has guidelines for volunteers and requires A background check for non staff. I was not able to get full access to the YMCA as a volunteer due too time constraints for this first observation, but should be processed in time for observation number two for older aged adolescents. I choose to pay attention to age groups 4-5 years old for my first study as grounds for learning about Social Cognitive Theory. This age group is very high energy yet, not very logical in their decision making abilities.
The city of Elmonte has a very high population of Latino and White children. The social demographic of this area has a lot of young children and elementary schools. The income level of city residents has a very wide range of financial backgrounds yet majority of these families are upper to lower- low-class household incomes. My friend Shay is full-time staff and also a student at Cal state Los Angeles. She allowed me to visit during the end of her shift two times over the past weeks to take notes and give me sensibility on two members personalities.
People learn how to act socially by observing the patterns of those around them. This idea was supported in the teachings of Social Cognitive theory Published by Albert Bandura in 1977. Professor Albert Bandura is a psychologist and holds the position of David Starr Jordan Professor Emeritus of Social Science in Psychology at Stanford University. Bandura’s Social Learning Theory is a proposition that infers people learn from one another, via observation, imitation, and modeling.
The theory has often been called a bridge between behaviorist and cognitive learning theories because it encompasses attention, memory, and motivation (Source). I felt as though this theory is the closest idea that supports my observation journal. I was able to visit about 20 minuets each time for my 2 observations, my current employment is with senior citizens and the relationship surprisingly similar within these two age groups is really close. My first observation was documented Monday February 20th around 5:00pm and my second observation, Monday February 27th around 5:30 pm.
These windows are about midway between after school sessions. The YMCA is a perfect environment to view children in a low stress environments not centered around performance and achievement. During my first observation I was kind of nervous because I didn’t know what to document and how to not be intrusive to the free play environment. The kids absolutely love their instructor Ms. Shay or “Ms. S”, the name the kids gave her to more easily get her attention. The students basically spent most of their time hanging around us after their school work was completed.
The YMCA Elmonte services kids from two years old to around sixteen years old. The various age groups have different activities they are allowed to participate in while at the YMCA. Membership at the Y is stratified into a few groups the first being a daycare program for infant and toddlers 0-2 years old, and also provide activities for older members the next being the youth 5-12, followed by the teen section which services ages 13-17. The YMCA is perfect for socializing kids in a stress free play based environment.
The Elmonte office offers Health & Wellness, Group Exercise, and even swimming pools that teach swimming lessons and aquatic exercising classes. Groups of students are divided into classes and can range in age on an average of 4 years age difference. The schedule for the daily member is homework, computer lab time, a snack, then the children are given a daily lesson which could range from language arts, science, or mathematics. Lastly the students are able to enjoy free time or physical activity time. My first study was a Latino boy about 5 years old.
He attends kindergarten about 5 minuets away and is dropped off at the Elmonte location with his friend every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. He is in the youth section of the YMCA, So he is able to play with peer older than him without constant supervised interaction. I found that a blind observation would work best for the situation whence, to not change john’s normal behavioral routine during free play. I wanted his expression and emotion to be uninfluenced without him putting on a show. Although john did not return the second Monday I visited I had learned a bit from his interaction with members of this program.
John came to the program with a polo t-shirt and tan pants so it seems as though his elementary school requires him to wear a uniform to school. There were about five other kids out of around 45 who had similar dress code. john tended to play more with his friend who he came with and one other child in the same uniform when I came to the location. They were just about finished with snack time and going back to play. The first physical Activity for that day was a singing and dancing group activity which required all students in the group to participate which they all of course were overjoyed to participate in.
Johns face lit up with excitement as soon as the instructor informed the group it was time to sing an dance, he was one of the more interactive students out of the group. John seemed as though this activity was designed for him and him alone. As soon as the music started john was showing off his dancing skills and jumping all over the room. Although majority of johns time was spent with his friend. He was a very sociable kid when it came to physical activity he jumped here and there dancing with his classmates boys and girls. his personality floods everywhere he goes.
John would let you know he was there and in full character. John seems like his parents are very lively and involved in his life. The second person I choose to study was a timid boy also Latino, a member of YMCA Elmonte who only attends Mondays. This student was there both times I visited. The boys name is Kenneth. Kenneth did not come to the program with a fancy school uniform like john, he wore regular clothes and had a few stains on his shirt. He was not as high energy as john yet still had a social circle of students he hung out with.
Kenneth is also 5 years old but seemed kind of withdrawn from the environment. When I visited the first time Kenneth was the first student I paid attention to because he seemed kind of odd out of the group. Coming to find out Kenneth has and older sister that attends the Y also and is 3 years older than him. He is in a different class than his sister In not sure why. His sister is pretty active and runs and plays with things around the center but is very much involved in group activities she has 2 friends of which she spends the most time with.
When presented with a new activity it takes Kenneth a few moments for his brain to kick into gear and move on to the next task he kind of sits and stares at the other children and then he goes about joining the group. Snack time he sits with kids of his age group and doesn’t speak to often. During physical activity of music time Kenneth joins the choreography but he isn’t overjoyed or making rambunctious movements that disrupt anyone else he tended to stay to the side of the room and tries to create as title attention as possible.
The contrast between Kenneth isn’t that far off; even though Kenneth takes a little longer to get adjusted to the sequence of activities he still actively participates at his own speed. Kenneth has been in the program for about two months longer than John, yet john has a higher level of interaction among peers and teachers, and overall personality. Not being around many children often, while taking this class and another similar, I have identified the fact that children between 3-8 years old are complete narcissist, children are completely self absorbed its really funny when kids measure themselves to their environment.
Children are really only aware of what they can benefit from the situation they are not fully aware of other peoples feelings. Often you hear adults reminding kids to play fair, and share toys I never really understood what that meant until this observation. Its kind of comical how full of themselves kids really are. Even when a child is being reprimanded for their “bad” behavior they will look at the person instructing them as if they are late for a flight out of LAX and this person is a one handed taxi driver, they cannot wait for the person to stop talking to them to go about their busy play dates.
I feel as though John has a stronger characteristic of sociability from positive parenting. I was like john when I was younger, happened to be the youngest child in my nuclear family and it showed often. If I didn’t get my way I would go absolutely mad. Everything someone told me to was always followed by a well throughtout reply which turned in to a habit of always questioning authority. Most of my time as a child was spent outside climbing someones trees or destroying something in my backyard. Being the center of attention gave me so much pride.
Especially coming from a household where I was constantly reminded that I could be anything I could dream. What I have also learned during this observation is not speaking to children in a baby voice helps they development. I asked one of the instructors why they felt its better to not speaking in a baby like belittling voice and her response made life changing sense. She said “children are growing into adults, not growing into babies. That simple paradigm shift made so much sense to me in that moment, Children are delicate but they the next generation of adult.