Seattle Girls' School Parent and Guardian Series: Priming Your Girls for Success


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2 Hour Session Delivered to Parents and Guardians of Seattle Girls' School. Learn what brain science, gender research, and educational psychology has to say about raising girls primed to learn and be successful in school. What can you do as parents, guardians, and other support adults?

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  • Target Audience: All Families
  • US mainstream culture - do-it yourself, independence, innovation Inherent sense of competition, aloneness. Don ’t air your dirty laundry. Save face. Kids reflect your parenting. I have lots of experience with children, but it does not mean I have all answers. Research a double edge sword, we either ignore it or swallow it whole. Trial and error. Resilience, humor, and flexibility.
  • Some of these things are very new - studying child/educational/social psychology and brain science for over a decade and still surprised. Going to feel under the microscope. Going to hear things that may debunk long-held ideas. May feel like you ’ve been messing up your kids. The more we retreat into the “save face” or “pretend all is well” or “ah yes I knew it all along” behaviors, the less we are able to open up our own scope of understanding, collaboration, or community.
  • Borrowing heavily from John Medina ’s 12 Brain Rules. Meta studies, peer reviewed and replicated, more and more consultations with businesses and educational institutions. Also borrowing some from Nurture Shock (Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman). Similar book looking at research trends in child and developmental sciences
  • Exercise boosts academic brain power, including all executive functions: concentration, impulse control, foresight, problem solving. Also positively affects spatial tasks, reaction times, memory, and quantitative skills. Feel stuck on a problem? Go for a walk! Aerobic exercise especially helpful because of the increased oxygenation and circulation. Also, exercise directly increases neurons ’ creation, survival , and resistance to stress and damage.
  • Loss of sleep for adults can result in negative effects, but in children can have profound long lasting effects that sometimes cannot be undone. Learning is consolidated in sleep phase. Tasks/learning from earlier replayed in mind over and over again. Interrupt it, and learning disappears. 10-20% people are naturally early chronotypes (morning people). 10-20% people are naturally late chronotypes (night people). Everyone else somewhere in between. Sleep loss hurts attention, executive function, working memory, mood, quantitative skills, logical reasoning, motor dexterity. Sleep deprivation = remember negatively charged memories, less activity Good sleep = retention of factual minutia, less depression, higher quality of life, less obesity The more you learn, the more you need to sleep
  • Glucose level needs to be consistent, but too much will make cells think the sugars are a pathogen. Immune response can cause cognitive deficits that of Alzheimers. Elevated cortisol = impaired memory. Graze rather than 3 solid meals best. Eat foods low on glycemic index (raw veggies, high fiber). Add a little healthy proteins (meats, tofu) and fats (olive oil, seeds, nuts) and sugar levels rise in a nice curve. Avoid trans or saturated fats whenever possible BUT avoid zero fat. Try to get these from original source foods rather than supplements. High levels of bad fat = poor memory.
  • A little stress or emotional significance is great for memory. Longer than 30 seconds or so, not so much. High cortisol levels = poor memory, executive function, motor skills, immune response, sleep, mood. Emotional stability in the home tends to be the greatest predictor of academic success. BUT beware of the pretense of no conflict. Kids experience stress when they see parents argue, but that stress goes away when they see adults resolve the conflict with loving compromise and communication. When we say “not in front of the kids” or “take it upstairs”, we deprive kids of seeing the resolution and thus leave them in the stressed state.
  • We talk about “parental instinct.” How much of it is what we already know versus what is innately programmed in? The only thing that is programmed is to want to ensure the safety and well being of our children. Everything else is our own experience, books and programs that may or may not be derived from research about children.
  • Intent: We want to make kids feel good. High self-esteem = success in a lot of things, right? High self esteem, though, doesn ’t improve grades or career achievement. It doesn’t lower alcohol usage nor violent begaviors. Dweck studies easy test, high scores. “You must be smart” vs. “You must have tried really hard.” hard test, low scores. 1st group thinks they must not be smart enough. 2nd group thinks they must not have concentrated or tried hard enough. easy test. 1st group lower scores than 1st time. 2nd group skyrockets. choice - easy test or hard test? 1st group chooses easy, 2nd group chooses hard. General, sweeping, overabundant praise causes problems. Heavily praised kids: motivation is external, risk averse, lack autonomy. In college they check more for approval, drop out of hard classes, can ’t find major. They are image maintenance focused. They are more competitive and are willing to cut others down. When over-praised kids enter middle school and run into challenges, they think, “I must have been dumb all long.” They don’t try harder because that is confirmation that they aren’t smart. They cheat because they have no strategies for failure. Dweck study: fixed versus malleable intelligence lessons Dweck study: you have a few minutes between tests. Would you like to know your rank or would you like to review materials before next test - high praise group chose to find out rank. KIDS ARE SMARTER THAN THAT. They start connecting abundant praise with lack of ability. By high school, they trust teachers who criticize them more because they see the teacher as seeing that they have somewhere to go. Not all praise is bad. If it is specific, sincere, and intermittent, it will do far more good.
  • Nurture Shock: Comparison of Chinese mothers (Hong Kong) and US mothers (Illinois). Hard test, break in middle. Told their kids had “failed”. US mothers avoided topic, Chinese mothers told kids that they had failed & they must not have tried very hard. Chinese kids did 33% better, US kids did same. Medina: What YOU do and learn in life physically changes what your brain looks like – it literally rewires it. No two people have the same brain, not even twins. You can either accede to it or ignore it. The current system of education ignores it by having grade structures based on age. Businesses such as Amazon are catching on to mass customization (the Amazon homepage and the products you see are tailored to your recent purchases). Regions of the brain develop at different rates in different people. The brains of school children are just as unevenly developed as their bodies. Our school system ignores the fact that every brain is wired differently. We wrongly assume every brain is the same. JoAnn Deak and rubber bands Benjamin Zander “giving everyone an A” Kohn: gathering information, sharing information. To do this, you need neither tests nor grades. High scores on standardized tests correlate to shallower thinking. Why encapsulate into number or letter? 3 effects of emphasizing grades: 1) less interested in topic, discipline, or learning 2) tendency to avoid challenges 3) shallower thinking (facts for shorter amount of time, engage less deeply). ASSESSMENT has several goals: 1) sorting/ranking (destructive to set kids against each other) 2) motivation (extrinsic is bad. Intrinsic and extrinsic have inverse relationship) (motivated to get good grades is a problem to be solved, not a learning style to be accommodated) 3) controlling 4) helping them learn better. High schools that don ’t grade report no trouble in getting into college. “better get used to it” syndrome. Focusing on achievement and performance often do to the detriment of engagement and learning. PARENTS: make grades invisible. Narrative reports are good. Conferences are even better. Rubrics. Bruner “our goal should be to have kids experience success and failure as information rather than as a reward or punishment.
  • Medina: The human brain can only hold about seven pieces of information for less than 30 seconds! Which means, your brain can only handle a 7-digit phone number. If you want to extend the 30 seconds to a few minutes or even an hour or two, you will need to consistently re-expose yourself to the information. Memories are so volatile that you have to repeat to remember. Improve your memory by elaborately encoding it during its initial moments. Many of us have trouble remembering names. If at a party you need help remembering Mary, it helps to repeat internally more information about her. 溺 ary is wearing a blue dress and my favorite color is blue. � It may seem counterintuitive at first but study after study shows it improves your memory. Brain Rules in the classroom. In partnership with the University of Washington and Seattle Pacific University, Medina tested this Brain Rule in real classrooms of 3rd graders. They were asked to repeat their multiplication tables in the afternoons. The classrooms in the study did significantly better than the classrooms that did not have the repetition. If brain scientists get together with teachers and do research, we may be able to eliminate need for homework since learning would take place at school, instead of the home. It takes years to consolidate a memory. Not minutes, hours, or days but years. What you learn in first grade is not completely formed until your sophomore year in high school. Medina ’s dream school is one that repeats what was learned, not at home, but during the school day, 90-120 minutes after the initial learning occurred. Our schools are currently designed so that most real learning has to occur at home. How do you remember better? Repeated exposure to information / in specifically timed intervals / provides the most powerful way to fix memory into the brain. Forgetting allows us to prioritize events. But if you want to remember, remember to repeat. Kohn: no study has ever proved homework before high school ever effective for increasing academic achievement. Caveat for vacations. 2 week brain atrophy. Academic gap appears in summers.
  • Lise Eliot adults ’ perception of baby behaviors (boys - angry & distressed; girls - happy and engaged). Parents’ assessment of how steep an incline their babies could crawl. There are very few gender differences in children’s brains, but there are differences in adult brains. Are these differences more nurture than nature? Gender conformity makes children behave against their nature as soon as they are able to tell what sex they are and what is expected of them in peer groups & beyond. Medina: EVERY SINGLE EXPERIENCE in some way affects the development of the brain. Science Museum study by Tennenbaum. Joshua Aronson ’s study on stereotype threat.
  • Study = 3 groups. 1 multicultural tape, 1 multicultural tape and conversations about race, 1 race conversations only. Lots of families dropped out of 3 rd group. Results inconclusive. But on deeper inquiry, many families only mentioned topics in passing. Families that had more explicit conversations had positive results, shallow conversations had no positive results. Grade 1: Jigsaw classroom = more cross racial play. Grade 3: jigsaw classroom no difference. More diversity = less cross-racial bonds. White kids 8% best friends across racial lines UNLESS YOU TALK ABOUT IT Shushing racialized comments makes race charged, taboo. Brain needs categorizing to be complete. Conversation about race needs to be explicit and repeated and clear Jackie Robinson story explicit racism = better racial attitude. Neutered story = no better. Shielding conversation with kids of color about racial bias. Harris Brit – some preparation for bias good to a certain degree. Too much = fatalism. Ethnic pride messages much better in large quantities The more culture is marked by individualism = more groupism occurs in high school Darker skinned blacks status in minority group secure, so it ’s ok to act outside norms. Light skinned blacks afraid of being called “ acting white” so acts within stereotypical norms. Black Santa story to encourage racial dialogue in 1 st graders
  • Don ’t let this information make you tentative. Kids are resilient. Through conversation, collaboration, trial and error, you will find what will work for your kid. Medina – If you get it right 30% of the time, you get improved results
  • Must do ’s on your list: model making mistakes, learning from them, recovering from them model malleable intelligence - no more “I am not a math person.” encourage positive self talk praise effort, not grades Talk to others, be supportive of parents trying things out. Share stories & strategies, successes and mistakes. Be willing to give heads up about each other ’s children with love. Be willing to hear what may not be stellar reports of your girls.
  • Seattle Girls' School Parent and Guardian Series: Priming Your Girls for Success

    1. 1. Seattle Girls ’ School Parent/Guardian Information Series Session Two: Priming Your Girls for Success October 17, 2011
    2. 2. Introductions Warm-Up Questions As you think about your role in your girl ’s success, what do you see as your most important spheres of influence? Do you have any questions about how to support her best? (Please jot down your questions on a note card)
    3. 3. <ul><li>Meet other parents and guardians in the community </li></ul><ul><li>Begin a village of support for every girl </li></ul><ul><li>What research can tell us about kids </li></ul><ul><li>How do I apply this at home…? </li></ul><ul><li>Get questions answered </li></ul>Tonight ’s Goals
    4. 4. Disclaimers and Other Food for Thought
    5. 5. Safety, Honesty, Vulnerability
    6. 6. Stuff We Kinda Knew Already… With a Twist <ul><li>Exercise </li></ul><ul><li>Sleep </li></ul><ul><li>Nutrition </li></ul><ul><li>Stress </li></ul>
    7. 7. Exercise <ul><li>30 minutes of aerobic activity </li></ul><ul><li>2-3 times a week </li></ul>
    8. 8. Sleep <ul><li>• Effects of sleep much more pronounced </li></ul><ul><li> in children and adolescents </li></ul><ul><ul><li>• Chronotypes (morning/night people) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> • The Nap Zone </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> • Dangers of Sleep Deprivation </li></ul></ul>
    9. 9. Nutrition <ul><li>Goldilocks Food Habits </li></ul><ul><li>Good Food = Well Fueled Brains </li></ul><ul><li>Bad Food = Poor Learning </li></ul>
    10. 10. Stress <ul><li>30 Second Stress </li></ul><ul><li>Chronic Stress = Bad Learning </li></ul><ul><li>Happy Home = Academic Success </li></ul>
    11. 11. Mixing it Up My Girl Is… An only child The oldest child A middle child The youngest child An adopted child Please gather in birth order groups. Meet, chat, clarify. Did anything surprise you? How does it inform your parenting?
    12. 12. Stuff We Thought We Knew <ul><li>Praise </li></ul><ul><li>Grades/Failure </li></ul><ul><li>Homework </li></ul><ul><li>Gender </li></ul><ul><li>Race </li></ul>
    13. 13. Praise <ul><li>“ You are so smart” </li></ul><ul><li>False Impressions </li></ul><ul><li>Praise Junkies </li></ul>
    14. 14. Grades/Failure <ul><li>Inconsistent </li></ul><ul><li>Counter-educational </li></ul><ul><li>Shallow </li></ul><ul><li>Failure Avoidance </li></ul>
    15. 15. Homework <ul><li>Reinforcing or Relearning? </li></ul><ul><li>Teaching Responsibility? </li></ul><ul><li>Parent-Child Relationship? </li></ul>
    16. 16. Gender <ul><li>Gender Differences </li></ul><ul><li>Gender Bias </li></ul><ul><li>Microaggressions </li></ul>
    17. 17. Race <ul><li>Natural Biases </li></ul><ul><li>Unspoken = Unseen </li></ul><ul><li>Environment ≠Attitude </li></ul>
    18. 18. Mixing it Up I am thinking about changing my approach to: Praise Grades Homework Gender Race Please gather in interest groups. Meet, chat, clarify. How might you apply what you have learned today into your actions?
    19. 19. Caution
    20. 20. Moving Ahead
    21. 21. Questions, Questions
    22. 22. Coming Soon to a Parent/Guardian Program Series Near You… Curriculum Night Adolescence Math Night Alternative Aggression (Female Bullying) Sex Ed Programs And More!
    23. 23. Resources <ul><li>Joshua M. Aronson, Ph.D. “Improving Achievement & Narrowing the Gap.” Learning and the Brain Conference. Cambridge, MA. November 2003. </li></ul><ul><li>Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. Nurture Shock. </li></ul><ul><li>JoAnn Deak. Various Works on Gender, Brain, and Learning. </li></ul><ul><li>Carol Dweck. Various Works on Praise and Fixed/Malleable Intelligence. </li></ul><ul><li>Lise Eliot. Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow Into Troublesome Gaps - And What We Can Do About It. </li></ul><ul><li>Alfie Kohn. Various Works on Achievement, Effort, Homework, and Grades. </li></ul><ul><li>John Medina. Brain Rules , Brain Rules for Babies </li></ul><ul><li>Robin Nixon. “Brain Food: How to Eat Smart.” Live Science . </li></ul><ul><li>Harriet R. Tenenbaum, “Gender Achievement Motivation,” Learning and the Brain Conference, Cambridge, MA, November 2003. </li></ul>
    24. 24. Thank You! Have a fantastic evening!