Friday, December 18, 2015

Mind in the Making

Richmond Public Library is launching a new storytime initiative in the new year! We will be training all children’s staff in Mind in the Making by Ellen Galinsky. We are busily adding to our collection books that support each of the seven essential life skills (described for you below). Come explore some great picture books with your child, see how the books address a specific life skill, and get ready for some improved executive function.

Sharing these books with your child promotes the following child development principles:

Serve and Return, like game of ball, involves a back and forth conversation between you and your child where you listen, then build on and extend what your child says or does to promote learning.
Executive Function skills are skills you use to manage your attention, your feelings, your thoughts and your behavior to reach your goals. They include being able to pay attention, remember information, think flexibly and exercise self control.

The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs

1.  Focus and Self Control: 
Children need this skill in order to achieve their goals, especially in a world that is filled with distractions and information overload. It involves paying attention, remembering the rules, thinking flexibly and exercising self control.

For 0-2:

Head, Shoulders, Knees &; Toes (Board Book) by Annie Kubler

TIP: For children who are beginning to remember and understand words, you can let them point first and you follow their lead. You can ask: “Where are your toes?” and “Where are my toes?”

SKILL: Asking questions is a good way to be interactive and help children pay attention.

For 3-5:
 A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams
TIP: As you read, talk with your child about how it might feel to lose things in a fire. Rosa might have felt sad or angry, but instead, she and her family focused on creating a new home and saving for a new chair. Ask your child how it would feel to save that much money.
SKILL: Focus and Self Control are necessary as you work toward a goal. When you talk about how Rosa and her family saved for the new chair, your child is seeing the value of working toward long-term goals.

2. Perspective Taking:

Perspective goes far beyond empathy: it involves figuring out what others think and feel, and forms the basis of children understanding their parents’, teachers’ and friends’ intentions. Children who can take others’ perspectives are also much less likely to get involved in conflicts.

For 0-2:

Five Little Ducks by Raffi

TIP: With older children, you can help them be more attuned to the feelings of others by asking such questions as: “How do you think Mother Duck felt when not all of her little ducks came back? How do you know?” Have the children look at the Mother Duck’s expressions as fewer and fewer of her little ducks returned, and then look at her expressions in the fall and winter.

SKILL: Looking at the faces and body expressions of the characters in books is an important way children learn to “read” the feelings and thoughts of others.

For 3-5:

Are You Ready to Play Outside? by Mo Willems

TIP: Ask your child about what the characters learned from their experiences in the book. You can talk with your child about how Piggie’s views change: “Remember when Piggie first asked, ‘How can anyone play outside with all of this rain!?!’ Then he saw the worms enjoying the rain. What did Piggie learn from the worms? “Why do you think the worms were happy about the rain and Piggie wasn’t?”

SKILL: Perspective Taking involves the self control to put aside your own assumptions in order to understand the viewpoints of others and how they change through experience.

3. Communicating:

Communicating is much more than understanding language, speaking, reading and writing – it is the skill of determining what one wants to communicate and realizing how our communications will be understood by others. It is the skill that teachers and employers feel is most lacking today.

For 0-2:

Bark, George by Jules Feiffer

TIP: Act out this story with your child. Shake your head no; laugh or act surprised with each sound George makes.

SKILL: When you use different voices and facial expressions, you are showing your child different ways to communicate. Pretending calls on Executive Function skills, because you have to put aside your own reaction and “become” someone else.

For 3-5:

The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

TIP: While you read this book, you can point out the facial expressions of the Lion and the Mouse. You can ask questions about the characters: “How is the Lion feeling? How is the Mouse feeling?” These questions will help children be more attuned to looking at faces and what the faces are saying without words.

SKILL: Communicating involves facial expressions. Communicating with sounds and actions can make reading fun and interactive. You and your child can make the sounds or even act out the story.

4. Making Connections:
Making connections is at the heart of learning—figuring out what’s the same, what’s different and sorting these things into categories. Making unusual connections is at the core of creativity. In a world where people can Google for information, it is the people who can see the connections who can go beyond knowing information to using this information well.

For 0-2:

Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury

TIP: You can count or touch your child’s toes and fingers. Point to the book and then to your child.

SKILL: Making Connections is promoted by repetition and interaction.

For 3-5:
Alphabet City by Stephen T. Johnson

TIP: As you look at the pictures in Alphabet City, ask your child: “What are all of the things you see in this painting?”

SKILL: When you ask your child to respond first and name all of the things he or she sees, you are helping your child pay attention to details as well as promoting creativity. This back and forth conversation you have with your child about these paintings is what researchers call “serve and return.” Like a game of ball, one of you says or does something (serves) and the other responds (returns). The importance of these everyday interactions to brain building is a key finding from child development research.

5. Critical Thinking:
Critical thinking is the ongoing search for valid and reliable knowledge to guide beliefs, decisions and actions.

For 0-2:
Where's My Teddy? by Jez Alborough
TIP: After your child has read Where’s My Teddy? several times with you, you can ask what comes next before you turn the page. You can use the rhymes in the book as prompts for guessing.

SKILL: When you ask your child to recall what comes next, he or she is using his or her working memory. Critical Thinking involves being able to remember previous experiences and information and apply it to the current situation.

For 3-5:
Seven Blind Mice by Ed Young

TIP: At the end of the book, there is a Mouse Moral: “Knowing in part may make a fine tale, but wisdom comes from seeing the whole.” Ask your child: “What do you think the Mouse Moral means? Did you ever think you knew something, but it was only part of the answer?” Share a time when you had a similar experience of thinking you knew something because you only had partial information.

SKILL: The Mouse Moral is a great description of Critical Thinking—of making sure that you are searching for valid and accurate information by seeing the whole picture. This process calls on Executive Function skills.

6. Taking on Challenges:
Life is full of stresses and challenges. Children who are willing to take on challenges (instead of avoiding them or simply coping with them) do better in school and in life.

For 0-2:
My Truck Is Stuck! by Kevin Lewis and Daniel Kirk

TIP: You can point out that the truck driver and all of the other helpers keep trying to reach their goal of getting the truck unstuck.

SKILL: Taking on Challenges includes believing that we can do things even when they are hard. Executive Function skills are driven by goals.

For 3-5:
Brontorina by James Howe

TIP: In the end, Brontorina’s ballet teacher decides to meet her needs by finding space that is big enough for her to dance. Talk about how sometimes major obstacles can be overcome with a shift in thinking.

SKILL: Taking on Challenges includes exploring options and resources to help you achieve what you want, something by changing the way you think about it. This involves cognitive flexibility, an important part of Executive Function skills.

7. Self-Directed Engaged Learning:

It is through learning that we can realize our potential. As the world changes, so can we, for as long as we live — as long as we learn.

For 0-2:
From Head to Toe Board Book by Eric Carle

TIP: When reading this book, try each movement with your child. For example, when you and your child turn your heads, ask your child if she or he can turn to one side and then the other. Or, you can ask your child to suggest other movements for you to imitate.

SKILL: Studies show that children are most likely to remember what they’ve learned when they have first-hand experiences—not by listening. This back and forth interaction is what researchers call “serve and return.” Like a game of ball, one of you says or does something (serves) and the other responds (returns). The importance of these everyday interactions to brain building is a key finding from child development research.

For 3-5:

Press Here by Herve Tullet

TIP: As you read Press Here, talk about the concepts he or she may not know or may not know yet, like left and right. Give your child hints on how to remember these concepts, such as: “Make an L with your finger and thumb on your left hand,” or “You write with your right hand.”

SKILL: Helping your child elaborate and extend what he or she knows and transfer this knowledge to new situations are fundamental to learning.

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