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.
Learn more about what’s temperamentally appropriate for each of your kids with Kidzmet’s acclaimed Playbooks for Learning—now available on Kindle or as an award-winning personalized set.
Not sure which temperament your child has? Take our free quiz—designed for kids and calibrated to CAPT‘s estimated frequencies of personality type—to find out.
It seems like very few days go by when I don’t hear one story or another about the positive impact a teacher that “got” them made on someone’s life. I also hear lots of stories about unbearable school years where a teacher just didn’t connect with someone and this lack of connection made a negative impact on the individual’s perception of school in general, the subject matter being taught, and (most importantly) their own self esteem.
These examples are backed up by numerous recent research studies which conclude that positive teacher-student relationships have been shown to support students’ adjustment to school, contribute to their social skills, promote academic performance, and foster students’ resiliency in academic performance. (Battistich, Schaps, & Wilson, 2004; Birch & Ladd, 1997; Hamre & Pianta, 2001)
In fact, ASCD’s email newsletter just yesterday stated, “students as learners are also students as people, with hopes, fears, and needs. That’s why it’s so important to build adult-student relationships that support and encourage each student’s academic and personal growth. The frequency and perceived worth of interaction (PDF) with faculty, staff, and other students is one of the strongest predictors not only of student persistence but also of student learning.”
This belief is the foundation upon which Kidzmet is built. And it shouldn’t be something that we expect just from interpersonally gifted instructors that have an innate talent for connecting with people. We should expect a fervent attempt at true connection from EVERY teacher a child has in school. It doesn’t just benefit the students, it gives the teacher the experience of having a room full of students that are not only more engaged throughout the school year, but who wrap up the school year thinking, “s/he was the best teacher I’ve ever had.”
Throughout May, we’ll be looking for blog comments that tell stories of their most POSITIVE and most NEGATIVE teacher relationship experiences. (It can be yours or your child’s.) It can be a story of a teacher that made you love science because he presented it in a way that “clicked” for you. Or a teacher that used the *wrong* approach to motivate you and you spent the year dreaming up excuses about why you couldn’t make it to her class. Or even the story of a teacher that came highly recommended by another parent, but that just didn’t “get” your child.
Everyone who posts a story will get a Kidzmet Classroom Account gift card to pass along to a teacher, so that she can understand how each individual student in her class ticks and hit the ground running with new student relationships. Save it until you know who your child’s next teacher is in the Fall; pass it along to a sports coach, tutor or summer activities leader; or even gift it to this year’s teacher so that he is better prepared to welcome his new batch of students this Fall. It’s entirely up to you.
We’re looking forward to hearing everyone’s stories!!
To our kids’ collective success,
As I speak with principals, assistant superintendents and curriculum directors each day, one of the first questions I always ask is “what is it that separates your superstar teachers from the rest of the pack?” The answer that comes back is always the same: “They are able to connect with each of their students,” “they tailor their lesson strategies to each class,” or “their classes are consistently engaged.”
Sounds a lot like another profession I was in for a couple of decades…marketing. A marketer’s job is to take a product and make it look/sound as appealing as possible to the target audience so that they’ll listen long enough to eventually be convinced to buy it based on the messages in their packaging, advertising and brochures. The selected message and advertising vehicle for products is not the same—it needs to be tweaked, tailored and massaged based on the target demographic. Focus groups are run in which all KINDS of perspectives are heard. A/B test splits are executed. Even if the message is perfected for a certain group, it will need to be modified if it’s to effectively reach a different target.
A teacher’s job is to take a concept and make it look/sound as appealing as possible to students so that they’ll engage long enough to eventually learn it based on the messages in lesson plans, homework and breakout groups. And, just as with marketing, the selected lessons and breakout groups need to be tweaked, tailored and massaged for the class based on who’s sitting in the classroom. Even if a unit is a hit with one class, the teacher will most likely need to modify it to most effectively reach their class mix either the next year…or next period.
In fact, the teacher’s job is INFINITELY harder than the marketer’s job because, while marketers can get a pat on the back for getting just a percentage of their target audience to purchase the product…the teacher is expected to get every kid in class to “buy” the concept.
Master teachers are able to do this because they often have an innate interpersonal gift. They intuitively know how to reach very different students. They are able to convince a raucous group of teenagers why geometry is and will be important to them. They are able to contextualize history in ways that students will be able to remember so that we’re not all doomed to repeat past horrors. They work magic with student breakout groups so that students are empowered to learn from each other and admire the unique strengths of their peers. They’re able to detect when a student “learns different” and help both the student and their parent modify the ways in which homework is approached so that the child has a greater chance of success with learning.
Why’s this important? Harvard & Columbia recently released the findings of a longitudinal study of 2.5 million students over 20 years that show the dramatic impact that quality teachers can have on their students. They are more likely to attend college, earn higher salaries, live in better neighborhoods and save more for retirement. They are also less likely to become pregnant as a teenager.
But earning your stripes as a quality teacher is more meaningful than just for the students. It’s a much more enjoyable profession for the teacher when she feels she’s reaching or, better yet, inspiring her students. At long last, the education and EdTech sectors are beginning to take notice and calling this new ground swell Personalization 3.0. But, at Kidzmet, we feel that what EdWeek has dubbed Personalization 3.0 isn’t using a wide enough angle lens. While the teacher-student relationship is important, so is engaging the parents as a critical member of a child’s learning team…as is beginning to harness the power of compatible student groups. In short, we believe that ALL learning relationships matter in a student’s education. Parent-student, teacher-student, parent-teacher, and student-student.
What about you? Do you feel that content positioning is as important as content pacing in educating our youth?
One day closer to the first day of school…
Below, we’ve compiled our favorite 10 language arts activities we’ve featured over the summer (as well as our Summer Reading Lists) to make sure your child gets in gear ahead of time and practices some of the concepts that they learned last year—in a FUN way—below. (That is, if your school follows the Core Standards.)
Want more? Several others are included here:
RECOMMENDED READING LISTS
for kids that particularly enjoy dabbling in specific Multiple Intelligence types.
The countdown to the school bell on the first day of school is officially upon us! In fact, many teachers were required to report for duty today.
We’ve compiled some of our favorite math activities we’ve featured on our blog to make sure your child gets in gear ahead of time and practices some of the concepts that they learned last year—in a FUN way—below. (That is, if your school follows the Core Standards.)
Math Frisbee Golf – for active nature lovers.
Become a Story Sleuth – for “word smart” kids.
Score Well in Math – for sports lovers.
Now You’re Cooking! – for worldly/foodie kids.
Thumb Ball – for fast-paced family time.
Sew Cool – for crafty kids.
Touchy Touchy – for dramatic kids.
Calculation Compositions – for musical kids.
Room Re-Arrangement – for visual/spatial kids.
Nutrition Math – for healthy families.