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» education

How Eating Dinner as a Family Improves Critical Thinking

Mormon Family Dinner

Image by More Good Foundation via Flickr

Growing up, my family sat down for dinner together seven days a week. My grandfather was a chef, so dinnertime was always a treat. Five and seven course meals were the norm back then. My grandfather’s day revolved around meal preparation. There were seven of us at the dinner table, so making dinner was a time consuming process. He would  start dinner preparation after lunchtime and soon our house would be filled with the wonderful aromas of ginger, garlic and fragrant spices.  These days, families are sitting down to dinner less and less. It is estimated that only 10% to 25% of families eat together 4 days a week. This is leaving our children at a disadvantage – especially when it comes to critical thinking. Outside of an educational setting, what better place is there than the dinner table for a child to practice, exercise, and experiment with critical thinking skills?

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My Sons’ Reactions to Creatively Ever After

Chapter 1, Creatively Ever After

Every night for nearly 7 years my husband and I have read bedtime stories to the kids. Now that the kids are older, they are excited to choose their own books. With shelves of books, I was surprised when my boys asked to read my book, Creatively Ever After. Though it is being published in just a few short weeks, I have never read my book aloud to an audience.

At first, I wasn’t sure if a soon-to-be second grader and a soon-to-be kindergartener would understand the “grown-up” concepts of creativity, innovation, and the creative problem solving process. I was a bit nervous as I started reading. My kids tell it like it is..the good, the bad and the ugly!

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Homework Wars: Why Limiting Homework is Not the Solution

"Teacher Appreciation" featured phot...

Image via Wikipedia

Ever since the invention of school, there have been debates over homework. Should we institute more homework or less homework? Or, should we ban homework all together?

In The New York Times article, New Recruit in the Homework Revolt: The Principal, parents, teachers and educational administrators sound off on the homework debate. After reading the article, one thing is clear. Limiting homework is not the solution. Why, you ask?

Parents, teachers and administrators are not aligned on the problem we are trying to solve by limiting homework. This misalignment only adds fuel to the fire.

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Bringing Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration and Creativity to a School Near You

Magnifying

Image by Clover_1 via Flickr

Last summer The Creativity Crisis made the cover of Newsweek. The report documented the decline in creativity in U.S.  school children. This leaves American children at a disadvantage when it comes to competing in a global economy. With social, economic, and political challenges getting ever more complex, creative leadership is rising in importance. In fact, a study of 1500 chief executives identified creativity as the most important competency for the future. If creativity is that important, shouldn’t it be taught in schools? Though embracing creativity within schools is slow going, I am hopeful change is coming soon. On June 10, 2011,

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How an Arts Education Improves Academic Achievement

4-year-old boy starts painting Revell model of...

Image via Wikipedia

One of the biggest differences between my oldest son’s preschool education and his elementary school education lies in the arts. When he was enrolled in preschool he brought home fantastic art projects. Every year our family looked forward to the art open house where we were invited to the gallery (i.e. transformed classroom) for a showing. Many of the students would dress up in formal attire to proudly walk their parents through the gallery. On the long awaited day, the teachers would hand out index cards with open-ended questions parents could ask to start a dialogue about their child’s work. And, at the end of the year, each grade would put on a play. One year my son was in the Wizard of Oz and the next year he was in The Sound of Music. I treasure these memories and proudly display my son’s artwork in my office.

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How to Avoid 7 Kid Creativity Crushers

Sad Kid

Image by sokabs via Flickr

Article first published as How to Avoid 7 Kid Creativity Crushers on Technorati.

The call for creativity in education is picking up steam. Educators around the globe are inventing new, innovative modes of teaching to help build creative thinking skills. In order for creativity to take hold, parents need to model creative behaviors at home. Sometimes, figuring out what not to do sheds light on the best practices to employ. Here are 7 surefire ways to crush a child’s creativity. These are based on research by Amabile and Hennessey (1992):

  1. Surveillance – putting your kids under a microscope and making them feel like they’re being watched
  2. Evaluation – judging your kids performance
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Using Legos to Teach Kids Financial Literacy

lego-city-folk

Image by dangoodwin via Flickr

Article first published as Using Legos to Teach Kids Financial Literacy on Technorati.

A few days ago I stopped at the gas station with my boys to fill up the tank. With the price of gas continuing to rise, I shrieked when the cost of a fill up topped $50. Luckily, I drive a hybrid so I don’t need to fill up the tank as frequently (phew).  As I handed the gas attendant a credit card, my 7-year old caught my reaction and asked, “Mom, what’s wrong? Isn’t the gas free because you’re not paying with dollar bills?” It was at that moment I realized I should teach my son a thing or two about money.

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A Parent Workshop on Creativity

Tightrope Walker, Palolem, Goa, India

Image by racoles via Flickr

Last week I had the honor of co-presenting a parent workshop on creativity at a local Montessori school. The workshop provided a primer on creativity, lots of hands on activities to build creativity skills, and a wonderful opportunity to chat about raising creative kids. Throughout the workshop, we used experiential activities to raise awareness of creativity. Our lessons centered around tips and techniques that parents could use at home with their children.

After the workshop was over, the parents stuck around – all abuzz about what they had just learned. Though the workshop was focused on raising creative kids, a side effect of the workshop was that parents were able to exercise their creative muscles. The frantic pace of raising kids leaves little time for parents to tend to themselves. In order to raise creative children, we must take the time to exercise our own creative muscles.

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Marketing Trumps Logic

Two chicken nuggets

Image via Wikipedia

In business school I was taught that marketing is all about changing people’s behaviors. I entered the marketing business a bit naive. The consequences of marketing products that are bad for you never really crossed my mind. However, one day as my family sat down for dinner at a local Japanese restaurant, I realized the power of marketing – particularly as it pertains to young children.

My kids ordered cooked food while my husband and I ordered sushi. When the food arrived, the boys dug into their rice and terriyaki while my husband and I savored the maki rolls and sashimi. My 7-year old, who is a fairly adventurous eater, pointed to a piece of raw, white-colored fish and asked, “What is that?”

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Creative Ways to Teach Math, Part 2

DSC_5837 - Dragon Fire

Image by archer10 (Dennis) via Flickr

A few weeks ago I shared tips on how to creatively teach skip counting. Since then, readers have asked for more ways to teach math and logic. Here’s one for you from the “way back” machine. Why way back? Well, the tips I share are from a bedtime routine my husband started when our oldest son was about three. Fast-forward…and 2006 seems like eons ago!

Each night before my son went to bed, my husband would make up a bedtime story. The story was based on a little boy (my son) who had to find three crystals in order to escape the precarious situations he had gotten into. In order to obtain the crystals, the little boy had to solve challenges. These challenges involved word problems, logic and math.

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