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Archive for March, 2014

The Atlantic Monthly recently published a wonderful article titled “The Overprotected Kid”. In it, author Hanna Rosin makes a compelling case that children benefit from taking risk, especially with peers – gaining valuable social, emotional, and logical life insights from successes and failures (getting hurt, discovering, challenging fears, arguing, etc). Rosin speaks to the phenomenon in which many of today’s parents attempt to shield their children from all possible risk, pain (physical and emotional), and danger. Rosin shares statistics which indicate that these cautionary measures have not made our kids safer over the last few decades but instead less autonomous, confident, socially and emotionally aware of others, empathic, and self-reliant. A Piagetian nightmare.
I’m posting the article here because I believe it supports the idea of maximizing exposure to peer interaction and gently reminds parents to fight the urge to save and fix instead of allow room for rich, sometimes painful, learning and development.

I’d love to start a dialogue on this topic, so please leave comments if you have an opinion.

The Article: http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/03/hey-parents-leave-those-kids-alone/358631/

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The following is a simple story I wrote for a 6 year old girl who is having some processing-related challenges in school. This girl often will give a “deer in the headlights” look when asked to perform a simple request, such as “come over to the reading carpet for story time”. To help her understand this experience, and to help her teachers find language and interventions to address it, I created this social story. In the process of reading this to the girl, I had her draw Dee, Dee’s teacher, the reading carpet, the brain fairies, and the message being sent from the brain to the legs. We did this all on a blackboard, but it could have easily been done with a dry erase board or piece of paper.

Here it is:

There once was a girl named Dee. Dee was an older sister, a daughter, a grand daughter, a student, a playmate and a friend.
Sometimes Dee’s brain and body had a hard time talking to each other.
Sometimes in school when Dee’s teacher would call her over to the reading carpet, Dee would freeze – her body not moving at all. It was like her brain couldn’t send the message to tell her body to move. When this happened, the teacher would usually say again “Come on over to the reading carpet Dee”. Dee’s brain would then finally tell her body to start moving. Dee didnt know why this sometimes happened. I think it’s because sometimes Dee’s brain fairies are sleepy and it takes them awhile to wake up, get on their shoes, and go down to her legs to tell them to move. What do you think? (I always give the child a chance to add their thoughts).
What do you think we can do to help Dee’s brain fairies shake off their sleepy dust and run down to her legs quicker? Ooooh. I have an idea. How about Dee and the teacher make a picture card that the teacher can hold up or place on Dee’s work surface that shows a brain sending a message to the legs that says “start walking”?

Maybe the card would look something like this (please excuse the lame drawing:):

image

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This is a fantastic video that explains current nueroscience on emotion regulation and brain plasticity. It states in a very sciency way, how social-emotional intervention literally changes the way the brain functions/responds to the environment. It’s fascinating and provides great hope for our kids. I look forward to talking about this with parents and practitioners in the weeks to come.

Please watch and discuss with others:
http://www.edutopia.org/richard-davidson-sel-brain-video

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