I just finished listening to a podcast with the guest speaker, Adele Diamond. She’s a neuroscientist and has studied child development and talked about a subject I struggle with, The Science of Attention. There’s a lot of talk in the last 20 plus years about revamping our school system. The problem is that we think we know what it should look like, but the ideal education image changes with every generation. For a time we looked to Korea as a guide. Then more of a free-for-all was ideal. Is it rote memorization or phonetic writing? With children it could look one way and be a great school for 20% of the kids, but not the remaining 80%. No child is like another. There are also those dear adaptable kids that flourish in many environments. This just screws up all the statistics.
So what makes a good education? Right now there’s a lot of talk about how we’ve removed all the fluff and it’s the fluff that is as needed as much as the rest. Music, noncompetitive play, art, philosophy and life skills. Good play which can be sports, music, and pretend increases children’s ability to pay attention. It cultivates executive decision making.
Is it too late to play?
Adele Diamond spoke of a normal thing called mirror writing. I remember my kids doing that when they were learning to write.
“And Elena Bodrova has a very simple way, and after an afternoon or an evening, the mirror writing is gone. What she says is, when you go home tonight, and you do your math homework, every time you’re supposed to write a 6, put down your pencil and pick up a red pencil. That’s all she says. That’s the whole instruction.”
Is it too late to play?
Is it possible to increase your adult organization skills by continuing to play? So let’s experiment with some of the things mentioned. This week when you’re defaulting into a bad habit, do it differently. Try standing on one foot. Or using a red pencil. Take your laptop or tablet to write into the kitchen. Stand instead of sit. Eat your ice cream with a fork. Run without music and watching the mileage. And don’t forget to play, because I don’t think it’s too late.
Here are some educational links meant for teaching but go ahead and take a look:
- Make Believe Play by Deborah Leong and Elena Bodrova
- Tools of the Mind book by Deborah Leong and Elena Bodrova
- Teaching Children to Train Their Minds
- Can the Right Kinds of Play Teach Self Control
- Tools of the Mind website
- On Being podcast with Adele Diamond