April 25, 2013
By Ellen Galinsky
There have been an increasing number of highly influential calls for America to wake up to the importance of what are called "executive function skills."
Take the high school graduation rate. Economics professor at Princeton University and former member of the President's Council of Economic Advisors, Cecilia Rouse, was asked on PBS's Need to Know a while back what she would do to improve the high school graduation rate (where America is reported as 21st among the top 28 industrialized nations). In addition to stating that she would invest more in the early childhood years and would provide more support, including mentors, for children in the 8th to 9th grade transition, Rouse called for a rigorous curriculum that includes promoting executive function skills. She says:
When you talk to employers, they say that students and job applicants ... don't have the executive functioning kind of skills to really be able to function in today's workplace.
Noting that machines and computers can now perform routine tasks, she states that we need employees who can do what ONLY people can do, such as problem solve and use their creativity. Unfortunately, however, she concludes:
Many people have argued that our curriculum is stuck back in the 1950s and 1960s and that everyone, soup to nuts, needs to be thinking about what are the skills that we need to be teaching our children going forward.
To help educators and parents better understand the role executive function skills play, I'll be participating in a free webinar on May 7 titled "Mind in the Making: Executive Function and the Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs." The webinar is open to anyone who's interested in finding out more and it's hosted by Bright Horizons. You can go here to sign up.
During the webinar, parents will discover:
The simple everyday things parents can do to build life skills in your children
The connection between life skills and school readiness
Strategies to help fuel your child’s natural passion for learning
Methods for empowering your child to manage stress, take on challenges and build resilience
(We'll also be giving away five free copies of my book, Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs.)read more
February 14, 2013
President Obama made history this week when he called for “high quality preschool for all” during the State of the Union address.
But why is this proposal so critical?
Erin Ramsey, Mind in the Making's new Senior Program Director, offers her perspective:
We now know that learning begins at birth.
We also know that the relationships, environments, and the opportunities for learning are key factors in children’s healthy development. The brain is rapidly developing during the first five years of life and it is imperative that children are engaged in loving, trusting relationships; in safe, peaceful and stimulating environments and receiving good nutrition in order for the brain’s infrastructure to make the connections.
These factors are essential to school readiness and lifelong success.
January 30, 2013
“Why Parents Need to Let Their Children Fail,” is the title of an Atlantic article getting lots of attention this week.
The piece, written by Jessica Lahey, who writes about education and parenting, cites a new study looking at the ramifications of students not being allowed to fail.
This from Lahey’s piece:
“The stories teachers exchange these days reveal a whole new level of overprotectiveness: parents who raise their children in a state of helplessness and powerlessness, children destined to an anxious adulthood, lacking the emotional resources they will need to cope with inevitable setback and failure.
I believed my accumulated compendium of teacher war stories were pretty good -- until I read a study out of Queensland University of Technology, by Judith Locke, et. al., a self-described "examination by parenting professionals of the concept of overparenting."
Overparenting is characterized in the study as parents' "misguided attempt to improve their child's current and future personal and academic success."
Not surprisingly, the article has got tons of people pretty vocal for one side or the other.
When I tweeted a link to the article, I got two opinoins on the debate:
So agree about this. Kids need to fail sometimes to learn problem-solving skills.
And @EdNavigation wrote:
It’s hard to prescribe one approach because every kid and parent is so different. That means, parents and educators have to decide on what works best for their situations.
But what if allowing children to suffer setbacks they are able to flourish?
“I like the notion of failing to succeed,” says Ellen Galinsky, author of “Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Skills Every Child Needs.”
In Chapter 7 of her book “Skill Seven: Self-Directed, Engaged Learning” she points out that “all children have weaknesses,” but “how do we deal with those? I think it’s important for children to know that making mistakes is an essential part of learning.”read more
December 18, 2012
By Ellen Galinsky
The front pages of newspapers show hearses lined up and the headlines talk of the mournful task of saying goodbye. An eight-year-old child is quoted in a New York Times article, speaking of his six-year-old friend, Jack Pinto:
I used to do everything with him. We liked to wrestle. We played Wii We just played all the time. I can’t believe I’m never going to see him again.
America has had a collective experience of death over the past days. Amid the December skies and the festively lit Christmas trees in Newtown, Connecticut are the votive candles, the shrines, the stuffed animals, and the loving notes to the children and adults who tragically lost their lives on December 14th.
This shared and heartbreaking loss has spilled into all of our lives, whether near or far, whether old or young, whether we knew those who lost their lives or not.
For many of us, this collective loss has raised questions of how we talk about this the loss with children—from safety in schools, to killings, to death.
For some of us, this collective loss reminds us of the loss of our own children—as it does for me—soon after his birth years ago on a December day, not unlike today. And I, like many parents in Newtown, faced the task of telling my five-year-old son about the death of his brother.read more
November 19, 2012
Are we born good? Great piece on 60 Minutes last night.
Can infants tell right from wrong? And if so, how would you know? Come to Yale's baby lab. Lesley Stahl reports.