Look Inside. Look Outside.

NWK and related programs have a deceptively simple mission: To help children (and others) identify their internal and external resources and use them creatively. An adult example of this mission in action was the CASS/SEMILLA Program. Coordinated by Julia Jarrell, this USAID-funded program took place at Alamo Community Colleges in San Antonio, TX. http://alamosemilla.wixsite.com/seed-2013 Each year groups of 20 teachers were selected from hundreds in their home countries in Latin America to spend a year Read More →

Balancing Act

In the late 1980’s in Houston, I created activities for the HISD’s “Say Yes to a Youngster’s Future: Math and Science for the Family” program sponsored by Shell. Students met on Saturday with an adult family member and explored different concepts using everyday materials. Participants were from the lowest performing elementary schools at that time. At the end of the year, all the schools had raised their test scores. Here are some of the activities Read More →

Difficult People

Many times in life, we and our children will experience what we might call “difficult people.” These are people that push your buttons, drive you crazy, perhaps even make you want to resort to violence. Don’t do it! Talk to your children about this and model positive behaviors. Here are some suggestions that might help: Different, not difficult. We were all born with unique temperaments and dispositions that sometimes might clash. For example, my mother Read More →

Special Needs?

What if you had to demonstrate a jazz dance, analyze a cubist painting and play Fur Elise on the piano before you could graduate from high school? How would you do? What if these skills were considered just as important as writing a persuasive essay, solving a quadratic equation or explaining the causes of the American Revolution? Everyday, students who have been labeled as having “special needs” are asked to operate in areas where they Read More →

Free Play

There has been a dramatic rise in depression and anxiety in children and young people in America that cannot be attributed to wars and conflict. Twenge and colleagues finds a domino effect, beginning with the decrease in free play. In play, children learn to explore on their own, resolve problems, take on other people’s viewpoints, and control their own lives. Today children are over-scheduled, pushed to pass high stakes tests, driven not to fail, and Read More →

Be my Valentine!

If you care about children, you are my valentine. I don’t care if your race, gender, age, religion and politics are different from my own. If you care about even one child, you are my valentine. I would like to thank you in advance for many things: If you helped a child see his potential, thank you! Each child is as unrepeatable as a snowflake—utterly unique and special. Each child should feel good about who Read More →

How Does a Child Learn?

If a person is an educator or parent, she has a theory about how children learn. We all do, whether we realize it or not. Some people see children as smaller adults, who learn as adults do. This is wrong. Developmental psychologists from Piaget to the present know that children go through stages of development and that how they learn at one stage is different from the next. For example, an adult may learn through Read More →

Acting Out

Dramatic play has many benefits for a child’s development. Here are a few: A child can take on an adult role that he is not yet old enough to attempt, such a fire fighter, doctor, teacher or parent. This helps him understand and even REHEARSE adult roles and responsibilities. When she plays a role different from herself, she is exposed to a new point of view and is more likely to develop EMPATHY for that Read More →

Take a Seat!

Last summer I wrote about the importance of making a “study” of different subjects and objects. A study helps build creative fluency, make connections between different ideas, and develop deeper understanding. At that time I used “shoe” as an example. http://themissingalphabet.com/making-a-study/ Here are suggestions for making a study of chairs. Concrete Experience. Take a real chair that is simple and sturdy. Sit in it as many different ways as you can imagine. Then think of Read More →

Be the Boss!

Researchers find that children not only need cognitive skills, but metacognitive skills, sometimes called “executive functions,” as well. Think of the difference in the work of an executive and worker. The worker does his job, however large or small. The boss’ job is to take the 30,000 foot view. She must plan, evaluate, monitor and coordinate all the workers and all the jobs. The role difference can also be seen in director and actor, coach Read More →