We’re finally back from Summer hiatus! Thanks to everyone who has patiently waited for new content on Kidzmet’s blog. This summer, I completed eight books on how kids temperaments shape the ways in which they are uniquely wired to learn, based on each of Carl Jung’s cognitive processes. This article illustrates why I felt it was so important to write the Playbooks for Learning. I hope you enjoy it.
To our kids’ collective success,
As parents, we have all been there. We collectively pored over BabyCenter, eagerly anticipating news that our baby had grown to the size of a grape or an avocado. Once our wee one emerged from the womb, we started talking to “expert” friends and family members as well as devouring books and websites that would tell us what developmental stage our kids would reach in the coming days, weeks or months. As they grew, we began to debate with our spouses and friends whether co-sleeping, the No Cry Sleep Solution or Ferberizing our baby would be best. (Though we may not have realized that this was actually a temperamental debate!)
As our babies became toddlers and preschoolers, we started to understand that their personalities played a big part in which form of discipline was most effective. (Time out for the child or time out for a favorite toy? Talk to them about why their actions were wrong from a logical perspective or an emotional one?) We were, in effect, translating the same message into a “language” that resonated with our kids. Gary Chapman’s best-selling Love Languages series of books has a similar message for parents—that everyone speaks in different languages when it comes to both expressing and receiving love.
As our kids grew into little learners, however, we began to move back toward a solely “developmentally appropriate” mentality. With growing class sizes and curriculum standards at both state and national levels—not to mention worldwide benchmarks—it’s becoming even more challenging for teachers to teach to anything BUT the curriculum “middle”—or thereabouts—during the school day. Standards dictate what’s developmentally appropriate to teach and learn during each grade and our kids are required to keep pace…whether that means speeding up or slowing down their developmental pace to that of their class. This aspect of learning in-and-of-itself is a challenge for teachers, kids and parents.
But, in the same way that we all found different methods to work best when disciplining, potty training, or sleep training each of our kids, we as parents need to make sure that we partner with our kids’ teachers and schools to help our kids “translate” the curriculum they receive in school into a language that they not only understand, but resonate with so that the new learning is “chunked” in a way that makes sense and gets filed in long-term memory…not just so that they can ace their Friday quizzes.
This means keying into your child’s temperament. Is your child an extravert that likes to “think out loud,” as one of my favorite personality experts, Donna Dunning, likes to say…or is she more like Susan Cain’s Quiet introvert who prefers to reflect before responding? Neither one is better, but they approach learning differently. Similarly, does your child prefer to logically analyze situations…or does he feel uncomfortable when emotion is removed from the equation? Again, neither is better…but these types of kids just think different. Something I think most of us, as parents, believe our kids should learn how to do! We need to help our kids understand that different kids arrive at conclusions in different ways because we all naturally approach problems differently. Is your child a “slow and steady wins the race” tortoise or more of a hare that thrives on the energy of a looming deadline? Keying into this difference and the project planning ramifications of this temperamental dichotomy can help make homework and projects less of a headache for you both.
The next time you sit down with your child to help with homework, please keep this in mind. Just because certain organizational, learning or study techniques worked well for you as a child (or work well for you now) does not mean they are temperamentally appropriate for your kids. There’s a reason why 89 of the Fortune 100 companies use personality type in their businesses; why eHarmony has had more that 30 million members since conception; and why Paul Tieger’s Do What You Are is a reference text in so many high school career centers. Temperamentally appropriate learning works for babies, toddlers and preschoolers when we’re teaching them the “rules of the road.” Temperamentally appropriate living works for us as adults.
It’s time for us as parents to start playing a bigger role in our school-aged kids’ education by helping them key into their temperament-based strengths as early as possible and showing them how to translate homework and school day curriculum into temperamentally appropriate lessons that still fulfill the requirements of the teacher, but gives them a deeper understanding of why the knowledge is important…even if the teacher or class naturally “thinks differently” than they do.