Gimbl Blog

Generally Speaking about Learning

August 29, 2017, 11:13 am

While we’re fascinated by how kids learn, we don’t focus sufficiently on figuring it out. Instead we study and prepare how to teach a lesson. (We should be working on how to teach a child.) We learn the material, we prepare the lesson presentation, we create a follow up of the lesson, and then we execute this great work of ours. And we deduce incorrectly that if a child gets our lesson, he is a normal kid and if he doesn’t get the lesson then something is wrong with that child. And we have an alphabet soup of labels we are willing to put upon these kids. Not only do we focus on our teaching instead of the child’s learning, but also we perpetuate incorrect information about some of the characteristics of the learner. I guess we do this because kids are small and can’t intellectually defend themselves from these labels or from misinformation about how kids learn. Nonetheless we continue to tell ourselves some incorrect characteristics about children that make children more understandable to us, but not really. An example o f this is that we repeatedly say that children go from the general to the particular. We didn’t get this idea on our own. We copied it from biology where in the development of the physical body in utereo it appears that other general development happens and then specific development follows. In biology humans go from the general the particular. We make our hands before we make our fingers. But in learning, this is not the case. Learners go from the particular to the general. They take some specific information and generalize it beyond that example. How can we know this? First of all, it’s practical. There’s so much to learn that if the learner didn’t make connections, she’d never learn her culture. But more than that we can actually see these phenomena at work. It’s fairly easy to observe this when children speak. At first when the young child calls the man in the house, “Dad,” Dad thinks it’s a special affectionate name for him. But then his heart falls when the young child says, “Dad” to the postman, the grocer, the next-door neighbor and most any other man close by. A dog becomes every 4 legged animal the child sees. The youngster over generalizes the particular. All men are not “daddy,” but one is. By realizing that even the small child goes from the particular to the general gives us a better understanding of how the mind of the child works and how sophisticated it is. Hats off to all kids and the efficient way they teach themselves!

Babies are small but their work is enormous

August 15, 2017, 6:03 pm

Of course babies have to be small. They couldn’t be born otherwise. But their small size diminishes the intellectual work that they all do. It keeps us bigger people from truly understanding or valuing their work. Let’s take sitting up as an example. If you’ve watched a baby of 4 or 5 months you have observed how long it takes for a baby to figure out how to turn from lying on his back with his legs at right angles to the floor and in the air to turning himself upright so that the bottom and legs are on the floor and the head is up and back is perpendicular to the ground. That maneuver is geometry and the 6 month old teaches himself this axiom all alone in his crib while the tending adult doesn’t even notice, and certainly doesn’t realize the baby’s abilities. This is just one of many, many instances when the baby does something remarkable but no one notices. To make it worse for the child’s achievement status, the baby does things that the adult observes but miss calls. An example is talking. So many adults think children learn to talk thru imitation. Reducing the baby’s work to the level of imitation is insulting to the baby. But since he’s only a baby, nothing more, no one thinks much of this work. They even reduce its intellectual acumen by calling it imitation. People say babies learn to talk by imitation. How could that be? How could the baby learn to talk by imitating us? The child doesn’t see inside the other’s mouth, doesn’t know what the other is doing, doesn’t yet know any language. Rather the baby works hard by trial and error until he is able to produce a sound that matches a sound we make. When the baby thinks he’s got the sound, he plays with it. Sometimes an adult notices the sounds of the baby and might engage in a babbling conversation. And here we can observe something very interesting. The baby babbles, and the adult copies the baby sounds! In this game it is the adult who imitates the baby instead of the other way around! Babies are born smart and they work hard and accomplish a lot. It’s time for us to pay attention and to give the baby the credit and respect he is due! Just because he’s little doesn’t mean his work is small. Rather he’s a giant brain in a small space! Watch him, he’s amazing and so is his work!

Parenting tips for a month of Monday's

July 19, 2017, 11:00 pm

1. TRY TO SPEAK QUIETLY TO YOUR CHILDREN, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS DON’T YELL. 2. OUTDOOR AND INDOOR BEHAVIORS ARE DIFFERENT. RUN SCREAM TO EACH OTHER OUTDOORS, WALK, SPEAK TO PERSON ONLY WHEN IN SAME ROOM INDOORS 3. AVOID CRITICIZING EVEN WITH GOOD INTENTIONS 4. ASK QUESTIONS TO TEACH LESSONS, LECTURING OR TELLING YOUR KID WHAT TO DO IT, DOESN’T WORK 5. SAY WHAT YOU MEAN 6. MEAN WHAT YOU SAY 7. KEEP APPOINTMENTS 8. MAKE ROUTINES 9. HOLD FAMILY DINNERS AS SACRED 10. LEARN ABOUT FAMILY MEETINGS:SOLVING PROBLEMS, SHARING WORK CHORES, CREATING RELATIONSHIPS, WORKING ON THE IMPORTANT STUFF 11. HAVE A FAMILY TALK TIME EACH DAY 12. BE ON TIME FOR PICKING UP YOUR KIDS 13. BE DEPENDABLE 14. DON’T CONFIDE YOUR PERSONAL PROBLEMS TO YOUR KIDS 15. REMEMBER THEIR CHILDHOODS WITH NOTES AND MEMENTOS BECAUSE THEY WON’T REMEMBER 16. SHOW THEM THE SAME RESPECT YOU WOULD A GROWN  UP FRIEND 17. WHEN THEY HURT YOU, TELL THEM 18. LEARN TO NEGOTIATE ISSUES 19. LEARN TO MAKE DEALS WITH YOUR KIDS 20. GIVE YOUR KIDS TIME WITH YOU DAILY TO SIT AND TALK 21. TEACH TABLE MANNERS AT OTHER TIMES THAN MEAL TIMES 22. PLAN AHEAD WHEN YOU TAKE THEM SOMEWHERE YOU WANT TO GO 23. WHEN THEY ASK ABOUT REPRODUCTION,  TELL THEM ABOUT IT (USUALLY 6-8 YEARS OLD) BUT NOT ABOUT SEX 24. WHEN THEY ASK ABOUT SEX, TELL THEM ABOUT SEX, (NOT REPRODUCTION) BUT DON’T TELL THEM WHAT YOUR SEX LIFE IS LIKE (USUALLY 6TH-7TH GRADE) 25. LET YOUR KIDS ASSUME RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR ACTIONS 26. LITTLE KIDS LITTLE PROBLEMS, BIG KIDS BIG PROBLEMS 27. DON’T SAVE THEM FROM THE LESSON 28. DON’T ASK IF THEY’RE TELLING THE TRUTH OR A LIE OR WHY THEY ARE LYING 29. ASSUME THE BEST FROM THEM 30. BEFORE A GUEST ARRIVES PREPARE YOUR KID; AFTERWARDS EVALUATE TOGETHER 31. BEFORE A NEW EXPERIENCE PREPARE YOUR KID;AFTERWARD EVALUATE TOGETHER 32. ASK, HOW DID THAT WORK FOR YOU? NEXT TIME ROUND WOULD YOU CHANGE ANYTHING OR NOT? 33. ACCEPT WHO YOUR KID IS 34. BE YOUR CHILD’S ADVOCATE WHEN HE CAN’T COMPETE ON THE FIELD 35. PROTECT YOUR CHILD FROM BEING LABELED BY ANYONE

Helping your child understand dinner time rules

July 19, 2017, 4:27 pm

Kids feel like we adults boss them around all the time. This misperception causes them to enter into power struggles with us, most of which we ultimately lose even though we think we don’t! A power struggle is a time when you want your child to do something and he doesn’t want to do it or doesn’t want you to tell him to do it. He wants autonomy.  You want control! Many times theses power struggles come up over eating You know the old adage, you can take a horse to water… well you can’t make your child eat and he knows that. If your child becomes a fussy, picky eater, avoid trying to get him  to eat and  ending up in a  power struggle. Instead help support your position by getting a business sign that says “OPEN” and “CLOSED.“ When you prepare and serve dinner (or another meal), turn the sign to “OPEN” and Say, “the kitchen is now open. We can all eat now.” You may add some words of explanation since this is something new for your child. Say something like this. “I’ve been the cook here for a while and I’m trying to do my best at the job of preparing meals. But sometimes I get frustrated because it seems like everyone east all day long instead of at meal times and I’m forever cooking. So I’ve decided to do what they do   at restaurants – have opening times when we can eat and times when the kitchen is closed and we don’t eat. During the meal, don’t fuss at your child about eating, don’t spoon feed your child. Let him eat   as he does or does not please. Try to make the mealtime pleasant when the family gathers and talks to each other. After the meal turn the sign to closed (or after you clean up, which ever you prefer). Then if your child is hungry from not eating the meal and wants to eat something else later, you simply say in a cheerful voice, “Oh,” and glance at the sign, “the kitchen is closed now. I think it will open in 2 hours for snack time. You can eat then.” The advantage to bringing the sign into play is to turn the focus from you to the object – the sign. It’s hard to get into a power struggle with a sign!

Helping your child handle fear

July 19, 2017, 1:32 pm

If you were raised in the 50’s or 60’s, when summer vacation finally came, probably your parents told you to eat breakfast and then go out and play. And yes, they meant it and they weren’t going to accompany you, send you out with a laser biochip for location, or ask you where you were going. Times were different, safer, and more peaceful. Americans, having just saved Europe from fascism were feeling pretty good about themselves and their ways of life. The message parents wanted to send to their children and the message that they did send was that the world was their apple and it was a wonderful place. Go out and enjoy it, you can manage it! You are capable! But in today’s times of 24 hour news broadcast where bad news is delivered to us over and over again, we all have put a more dangerous spin onto the bad news. Oh sure, there is danger, but how much is there? And what message about danger do we want to impart with our children? What is or should be our worst fears, our most likely to happen fears? And shouldn’t we prepare our children, educate them about those real fears, and minimize the fears that are truly remote and very unlikely – possible but unlikely. Let’s take flying for example. Is that safe or dangerous? Riding in a car, safe or dangerous, playing in the yard, safe or dangerous, speaking to a stranger, safe or dangerous, swinging on a swing, safe or dangerous, playing soccer safe or dangerous, rotating on our axis in outer space, safe or dangerous?  Exactly what is our message? Is the earth or even our neighborhood safe or not? I think our message to our children should be carefully crafted, we should take care in what we reveal about danger. Children are small and they know they are insignificant and inept. They need us for almost everything. So as long as children are young, our job is to keep them safe without scaring them about the dangers of the world.  We can  pick real fears and educate them about those without creating  grandiose fears in our child. There is a short period of one’s lifetime  in which one can feel safe.   It’s OK to let your child think the world is a safe place. Time will pass and so will his feelings  of security. But until then do all you can to convey a sense of safety to your child.  Fear is a feeling adults can handle. Let children have  safety in their childhoods!

Parents

This is the Gimbl blog for parents. Our blog is updated with parenting advice by leading educators and experts from around the world. We cover a wide range of topics such as how best to prepare your child for school, to how to teach your child to be strong and self reliant. While being a parent is one of the greatest things in the world, it can also be challenging. Our parenting blog is here to offer help to make the journey as smooth as it is fun!