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Parenting Collaboration

Posted on by Brandon Klein

Perhaps the highest form of collaborating...

Notes from Mind in the Making by Ellen Galinsky:

Focus on seven, 'essential' life skills that every child needs and how to go about providing the foundations/opportunities for your child to uncover, develop and deepen these skills. 

Focus and Self Control:
- Just as important as IQ
- Executive functions tap your ability to use what you already know, to be creative with it, to problem solve with it - related to fluid intelligence which requires reasoning and using information
- Cognitive flexibility: flexibly to switch perspectives (a child will exhibit in pretend play when someone comes along and changes the script) and flexibly adjust to changed demands or priorities. 
- Working memory: holding information in your mind while you're working with/updating it (THINK SCRIBING! - not sure you can teach that so young!) 
a - relating one idea to another
b - relating what you're reading now to what you just read
c - relating what you're learning now to what you learned earlier
**critical for making sense of anything that unfolds over time

KEY: Must weave these skills into everyday activities . Be well rested and take breaks (everyone!) Practice delayed gratification. Do not take away inbord imagination or passion to learn and explore. If only we could convince other adults to do this! 

Perspective Taking:
- Perspective taking leads to understanding of expectations and therefore kids adjust better in Kindergarten
- Parents who delve deeper into expressing feelings have kids who eventually have a better understanding of emotion and perspective
- Perspective taking in pre-schoolers lessons aggression as kids get older - how? Kids that understand others have less of a need to strike or hurt others

Communicating:
- While reading books or talking at the dinner table, parents talk about issues that go beyond the here and now
- Ways to encourage literacy:
a) it's about expression - don't put focus on the mechanics of sounding it out at the expense of children expressing themselves
b) surround the process with enjoyment
c) connect the verbal with the visual (p132)
d) give children a concept of printed words (we read from left to right, top and bottom of pages, beginning and end of books, etc)
e) talk, listen, discuss and imagine
- Interesting to think about how alphabets, words, etc came about. T,L,X and Y are all shapes present in chinese, hebrew, english so our visual system of landscape, scenes, etc led to a sort of alphabet of shapes 
- Talk beyond here and now
- Give children access to many forms of communication (music, dance, art, taking photographs, etc)

Making Connections:
- Involves putting information into categories as well as seeing how one thing can represent or stand for something else.  Ultimately it involves:
a) figuring out what's the same or similar
b) figuring out what's different
c) figuring out how one thing relates to another and
d) Finding UNUSUAL connections, by reflecting and selecting something that is connected in a different way -- this competency develops in the later pre-school years and strengthens as kids grow.  It involves drawing on the exectuive functions of the brain and promotes creativity
- We're born with an innate understanding of geometry, numbers and language
- By playing board games (such as chutes and ladders), children are gaining content information about numbers and also promoting the skill of making connections
- We've gone from the Industrial Society of the 19th century to the Knowledge Society and it's not just about what we know it's how to make unusual connections and leverage creativity
- So, give everyone opportunities to see connections in fun ways! 
- Play games that involve finding their way in spaces

Critical Thinking:
- Suggested process for enacting and teaching critical thinking -- similar to scientific experiments (pg 201):
1) identify dilemma, problem or issue
2) determine the goal
3) come up with alternate solutions
4) consider how the solutions might work
5) select one to try

Create a Community of Learners:
- We teach best when we are learning
- Practice what we preach
- Adults learn by: finding something interesting, we try to control it, we try to make it happen again, we try to change it, we try to manipulate it.  In a lot of schools teachers tell kids what they need to know and kids repeat it...not very interesting.  
- Good parents "do whatever it takes" - which means saying 'no' as well as saying 'yes'

OBSERVATIONS:
There are countless other learnings, but each of the above can literally be converted to the normal adult work world and used to make collaboration and our work so much better!