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“This is hard. This is fun.” — Carol Dweck

I am in the middle of a mommy-ed reading list to help me be better at fostering resiliency in my kids. Why resiliency? Well, I want both of my kids to be happy, but happiness can be fleeting. Being able to tackle whatever challenge life throws at them with grace and resiliency is so much more useful.

The first book I checked out from the library was Mindset, The New Psychology of Success by Dr. Carol Dweck. Dr. Dweck’s research is about fixed mindsets versus growth mindsets. Do you view intelligence as static or as something that can be increased through hard work? If you got a C on a chemistry test does that me you aren’t very smart at science or that you didn’t study hard enough? If your two-year-old refuses to eat your dinner does that mean you are a bad cook, or that you weren’t sneaky enough about how you presented those green beans? Do you approach life’s challenges with a fixed mindset or a growth mindset? Dr. Dweck argues that a growth mindset will help you become more successful in the long run.

When I was a teacher at a very wonderful charter school, our entire population of parents, teachers and kids went through a 2 year reform effort on Social Emotional Learning. Part of this involved learning to be mindful of offering children encouragement instead of praise. It’s better to say “Wow, you are really working hard on that,” instead of “You are really smart at that”. Another example would be to say “You must really like to explore with oil pastels,” instead of “That picture is so pretty”.

In Mindset Dr. Dweck offers the quote “This is hard. This is fun.” which I absolutely love! I used that just the other day when Jenna was learning to use scissors. I’m also going to try to model using that phrase myself, so that my kids watch me work on something difficult and hear me say: “This is hard. This is fun.”

On a personal note, I was really excited to see the Olympic wrestler Patricia Miranda mentioned on page 21. She was a college friend and teammate of my husband, and truly is an inspiration. I think that wrestlers in general embody a growth mindset because unless you live in the Midwest, nobody enters wrestling hoping to get huge scholarships or lots of fame. Wrestlers work hard because they love wrestling, and are constantly trying to improve their skills no matter what the cost. They don’t call them “meatheads” for nothing.

This summer I am going to sign my son Bruce(7) up for the two week free trial of Dr. Dweck’s Brainology program on the computer.  But the way Bruce is already cranking through Harry Potter 7 is making me think there is already “meathead” in his blood.

When Sophie Get’s Angry…

This is one of my absolute favorite books for young children to learn about recognizing and managing their emotions.  (That’s called Social Emotional Learning in teacher-speak.)   This book is an SEL classic!  It’s called When Sophie Gets Angry – Really, Really Angry… and it’s by Molly Bang.

My husband and I read this book over and over to Bruce when he was little.  Just like Sophie, Bruce is often “a volcano ready to explode”.  When Bruce was little, we talked with him about how he often felt like Sophie and got really, really angry.  But we also talked about how Sophie learned to calm down, and rejoin her family in a positive way.

Jenna is such a different child and temperament than Bruce, that it is truly remarkable that they are both my children!  When we read Sophie to Jenna, we talk about how she relates to the little sister in the book, who has to deal with her older sibling Sophie getting angry.  It’s so interesting how both of my kids are gaining insight from the same book, but in entirely different ways.

This is definitely a good book for Guided Reading.  Simply reading it aloud to children doesn’t do it justice.  The conversation and the personal connections to their real life are what make Sophie so meaningful.