Ideas in practice

A Year in Review (2012)

Posted by on Dec 30, 2012 in Blog, Ideas in practice | 0 comments

I want to start by thanking you again for your continued support and encouragement on this blog. It is not always easy to know what to say or how to say it, but you’ve stuck with me and given me much to think about (not only refining my existing strategies and tweaking them as need be, but coming up with many new and effective ones). I am truly looking forward to another year with you! To wrap up the year, I wanted to share some of our top Tot Thoughts posts. Multiple Intelligences and Creativity The primary focus of this blog is to provide resources for the development of children’s multiple intelligences and creativity. You can find all of the posts that deal with creativity here. Some of the most popular posts this year were the ones offering activities to help develop children’s multiple intelligences. You can find the full list here. Of particular interest were the following: Activities – Linguistic Intelligence Activities – Musical Intelligence Activities – Spatial Intelligence Activities – Logical-Mathematical Intelligence Activities – Bodily Intelligence Activities – Intrapersonal Intelligence Activities – Interpersonal Intelligence Activities – Naturalistic Intelligence Empowerment Empowerment is about helping children develop their potential, to be capable of achieving great things and confident in their ability to do so. You can see all of the related posts here. I personally recommend you check out The Negotiator, including the three ground rules for effective negotiations with children: respect, fairness, and flexibility. Top posts included: 7 Habits of Highly Effective Parents Making time-outs effective 10 Key Competencies for Success Building Children’s Self-Esteem Teaching Children how to be Brave Education My goal has been to provide practical suggestions for teachers and parents to enhance their own educational initiatives. You can see all of the related posts here. Some key tips included: Helping your child cope when he feels that “everyone else is better than me!” Thoughts on why our children refuse to talk to us. Developing Multiple Intelligences in Babies Thoughts on Education vs. Discipline Parenting Finally, I have wanted to empower you as parents to identify effective strategies that work for you and your family. You can see all of the related posts here. In addition to many of the ones listed above, some favorite posts included: Saying goodbye to Santa Claus Special ways to celebrate birthdays A long overdue introduction to the Master of Disaster I wish you all a happy and prosperous new year! _________________________ PS – I am starting a new monthly newsletter with tips, resources and activities delivered straight to your inbox each month. Interested? Sign up here. © Tot Thoughts – smart parenting for smart child...

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The “Feelings Toolkit”

Posted by on Jun 27, 2011 in Blog, Ideas in practice | 0 comments

The “Feelings Toolkit”

Today’s post is from a guest blogger who writes for Last Mom, a blog about the daily rewards and challenges of older-child adoption. I thought this post was particularly relevant to the discussion on multiple intelligences as it offers a brilliant wonderful example of how we can help empower our children by teaching them to develop their interpersonal intelligence.  Our daughter came to us at nine-years old. She was abused and neglected in her first four years. She lived in extreme poverty (including homelessness) and witnessed drug, alcohol and domestic abuse. Her mother abandoned the family when she was 18 months old. Her father dropped her and her five siblings off at a children’s shelter when she was four, never to return for them. She then bounced around foster care for the next five years. She had two adoptions fail prior to finalization and many foster homes. She had about a dozen sets of parental figures before us. We read her entire file before committing to becoming her parents and saw that she was a little girl in such pain with no one to help her through it. We were confident that we could give her the love, support, understanding and guidance needed to start sorting through her turmoil. It turns out that we were right. She’s been home for fourteen months now (with the adoption finalized for eight months). She’s made huge progress. In the beginning, she would only acknowledge two emotions: happy and mad. Either everything was great and she was sweet, loving, joyful and oh, so desperate to please or she was ANGRY. She would scream for an hour at a time. She couldn’t give any reason for her big feelings other than “You made me mad!” She didn’t want to talk about her feelings or her past. She tantrummed at the slightest correction or gentlest “no.” I have a background in early childhood education and have worked with at risk preschoolers for years. I teach preschool teachers to use Dr. Becky Bailey’s Conscious Discipline methods in classrooms. I made copies of some of those materials and brought them home for my daughter. I stuck a feelings chart in a clear sleeve and put some relaxation exercises together in a little booklet. I taught her “the balloon” when she was calm. This is a breathing exercise where you put your arms over your head and take a deep breath in while inflating your arms like a balloon. Then you blow the air out (quickly and loudly at our house!) to deflate your balloon. I started telling her, “You are safe. You are loved. You can handle this.” I repeated this mantra as she screamed and cried.  As I started to recognize the signs of a meltdown, I would say it softly and have her repeat me. I would remind her to do a balloon if I saw her getting agitated. I realized that she didn’t understand other feelings. She was trying so hard to put on a happy front and when that failed, “mad” was her default. It’s all she knew. I explained to her that mad is a big and loud feeling, so it’s easy for other feelings to hide behind. I started talking about other feelings and asking if they might be hiding behind her mad. I made her a “Feelings Toolkit.” The “Feelings Toolkit” I gathered up lots of items we had around the house, picked up a few cheap things from the store and taped some handwritten labels on a couple things. I put it all in a plastic storage box and wrote,...

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Develop your Child’s Naturalist Intelligence

Posted by on Jun 24, 2011 in Blog, Ideas in practice | 2 comments

Today’s post was written by Brenna Holzhauer to whom I am most grateful for sharing her knowledge and expertise as we continue to explore multiple intelligence. Please see her bio and additional information at the end of the post.   When Howard Gardner first outlined his theory of Multiple Intelligences (Frames of Mind, 1983) – a model of thought that differentiates “intelligence” into various sensory modalities, rather than seeing it as a single general ability – it did not include the Naturalist Intelligence. It wasn’t introduced to his list of intelligences until the late 90s (Intelligence Reframed, 1999), after Gardner realized that the understanding of nature and living things was not sufficiently covered by the original seven intelligences (verbal/linguistic; mathematical/logical; spatial; kinesthetic; musical; interpersonal; and intrapersonal intelligence). He introduced and defined the Naturalist Intelligence with: The very term naturalist combines a description of the core ability with a characterization of a role that many cultures value. A naturalist demonstrates expertise in the recognition and classification of the numerous species — the flora and fauna — of his or her environment (Gardner 1999: 48). (Read more here). In this chapter, Gardner stated that “the naturalist’s intelligence proves as firmly entrenched as the other intelligences,” of no less importance than any of the others, and “every culture prizes people who not only can recognize members of a species that are especially valuable or notably dangerous but also can appropriately categorize new or unfamiliar organisms.” In addition, he recognized that “just as most ordinary children readily master language at an early age, so too are most children predisposed to explore the world of nature;” however, some individuals display more acute disposition these skills and traits than others. Some characteristics of a “naturally intelligent” person include: Ability to make justifying distinctions, visually or non-visually, of both living and non-living items. Comfort and interest in the world of organisms. Talent in caring for or interacting with living species. Detection of novel patterns or styles. Drive to identify and classify natural and artificial objects. Early fascination with plants, animals, natural phenomena and the surrounding environment. Affinity for symbols (linguistic and taxonomic) – identifying, representing and recording features and phenomena. Basically, someone with a keen Naturalist Intelligence can recognize and classify individuals, species and ecological relationships, relate information to one’s surroundings, interact effectively with living creatures, and discern patterns of life and natural forces. Careers well-suited for these “nature smart” people include farmers, park rangers, gardeners, florists, naturalists, biologists, environmentalists, taxonomists, fishermen/women, zoo keepers and veterinarians. An interesting point that Gardner mentions is that most children seem innately predisposed to these traits and have an inherent interest in exploring the natural world (read this NWF blogpost about “Why Kids Explore Nature Better Than We Do.”) Unfortunately, with today’s children and adults spending nearly 99% of their day indoors, separated from nature and the environment, many individuals with Natural Intelligence may never identify their skills and interests in this area, and this natural curiosity in so many children slowly fades away. According to Gardner, and many other educators and proponents of his theory, individuals demonstrating certain intelligences should be nurtured and encouraged to explore and utilize their talents, fully reaching their potential, and pursuing career and lifestyle choices that are fulfilling and do not stifle their creativity and intelligence. With today’s busy schedules and increasingly urban lifestyles, families’ outdoor recreation time is reduced and children’s Naturalist Intelligence may not be discovered or developed. However, it is quite simple to determine if your child displays a Naturalist Intelligence, and there are many ways you can encourage them to realize and nurture these traits. Does your child:  Enjoy being outside or participating in activities such as camping, fishing...

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