Is IQ the only factor in a child’s learning? Is a child’s ability to learn something that is preset and fixed? For years, we were taught to accept that fact. Recently, though, a number of books have come out saying something different. If we reinforce our children’s ability to develop learning skills, we can help them develop skills they will use their entire life.
How does it work? It boils down to how we word praise that we give. Saying something like “you got it right” only concentrates on a result, and not what has to be done to get that result. The child cannot transfer a skill, because that child does not know what skill was used. Saying something like “you remembered that when you use the < and > signs, the open part faces the larger number, you worked hard to remember that and now you did” reinforces what skill was used and compliments the child for the effort they put into the learning.
This is an area I am still learning more about myself, as I was brought up more in the “you got 85%, good job” and “you only got 75%, you should do better than that” mindset than the “you got 80%, I bet if you took his home and worked on the ones that were hard, you could get an even higher mark tomorrow” one. With that in mind, I found this article to be quite informative. It describes Dr. Carol Dweck’s research on “Fixed Mindset versus Growth Mindset” :
I had an interesting discussion with some people the other day. In the way conversations go into interesting topics, we started talking about being left and right handed. As it turns out, we all write with our right hand but not for the same reason. One of us had always been right handed, one became right handed, and one is not sure if they were born left handed, or actually switches dominance depending on what they do. We started wondering about it all, and asked some other people for thoughts. This is what we found.
1. some are right handed or left handed, as far as they know, from birth.
2. some are left handed, but forced to be right handed because ‘that is what everybody should be’ and it affects their skills with either hand immensely.
3. some are left handed, but are gently taught to be right handed because ‘everything is more often made right handed, so you will be able to do SO much more if you learn to adapt’. Right handedness becomes so second nature that any new activity is automatically learned right handed.
4. some remember learning sports as a child, and automatically starting out left handed till they were told they had to do it right handed because that is the hand they write with. They do not remember if they had always written right handed, but also do not remember any harassment for not writing right handed, so are clueless what they first tried to write with. They realized at a later age that, when they actually tried, they were capable of writing with the left hand, but as it is at a more simplified level they are not truly ambidextruous.
5. some are ambidextruous, using both hands for all activities equally.
For groups 1 and 3 only one hand would learn to do a skill. For groups 2 and 4, if a skill was learned with a specific hand the other hand could pick it up, but if the other hand learned it first the specific hand might not. Group 5 was either the same as 2 and 4, or both hands could learn or pick up skills easily.
I am wondering now:
a) what hand does a person write with
b) is that hand the dominant hand
c) can that person learn a skill with both hands
I invite comments from anyone who would find this topic interesting. No, I am not writing a scientific or psychological paper about it. I am just curious about it, and invite input from anyone else as curious as I.
Always use all skills as part of learning, but also use all skills as part of play.
So, that means that when you cover a theme, say Dinosaurs, you find a way to express it and explore it with the children using large motor, small motor, musical, artistic, prereading, premath, and prescience skills with as much media as you can. Then, during the free play, provide for physical, artistic, dramatic, reading, and art/craft activities that let the children use their skills to further explore theme related materials. If the children’s explorations take them away from the theme while they use the tools you provide to explore, that’s fine. They will still develop skills, and will feel less pressured, so will learn more when you are actively teaching them during the structured parts of the day because they are more relaxed