Raising Brilliant Children

7.27.17 Little Newtons.
I was recently on WCCO to discuss gender stereotypes. Watch the full interview here.

Boys are smart and girls are dumb. It’s not just something kids shout on the playground; it’s something a surprising number of young girls actually believe.

Researchers found that by age six, fewer girls believe members of their gender are “really, really smart” compared with boys. Also at age six, many girls lack self confidence in their intelligence. Girls are less likely to take on activities if they believe they are designed for smart kids.

No matter their gender, I want all children to know they are brilliant! As parents and caregivers, we have a responsibility to reinforce this notion and help kids gain confidence in their brain power and their abilities.

At Little Newtons, our teachers engage children with activities to build their self confidence. One impactful exercise is having kids draw a self portrait on a paper plate. This gives kids an opportunity to reflect on how they see themselves. It gives teachers an opportunity to reinforce the good qualities by pointing out what they’ve drawn.

I have come across several books that help both girls and boys build confidence. I recommend reading some of the following to your little ones:

“The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes,” by Gary Rubinstein and Mark Pett

The message here is that no one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes, even the girl who everyone believes is flawless.

“How Full is Your Bucket For Kids,” by Tom Rath 

This book takes a kid-friendly approach to the adult concept of filling your bucket and what happens when your bucket isn’t full.

“What Do You Do with an Idea?,” by Kobi Yamada

The learning lesson in this book is: just because you start something small, it doesn’t mean you can’t grow it to something big.

“My Day Is Ruined!: A Story Teaching Flexible Thinking,” by Bryan Smith

This book provides a good teaching moment that things often aren’t as bad as they seem.

Everyone has the ability to use their skills and work hard! It doesn’t matter if you’re a girl or a boy… all kids need to embrace their brilliance!

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Summer Reading List

summer_reading

Would you, could you on a train? In the rain?
On a boat? With a goat?
Reading is fun here or there.
You can take a good book anywhere!

No matter where this summer takes you and your family, be sure to bring a book. Kids can lose two to three months’ worth of skills during summer vacation, and reading is an easy way to fight off brain drain.

If your kiddos are battling against books, there are some ways to keep them engaged:

Change the Scenery
Minnesota’s weather only cooperates a few months out of the year; don’t miss it all by staying indoors! Head to your backyard or a public park with a stack of books. Don’t worry if you don’t get through all of them. You can alternate reading time and playtime to keep your child interested.

Join a Program
Many local libraries, bookstores, even restaurants offer incentives for readers. A free book or pizza is a great motivator for little minds. If your kiddo is too young or you can’t find a program in your area, you can start your own. You could let them choose a meal or a new toy after finishing a certain number of books.

Put on Listening Ears
Audiobooks are a great way to stretch a child’s imagination, and it’s easier on your voice! Kids love listening to books with different character voices – some even add music or sound effects. Audiobooks are a great option for long car rides without turning to a device with a screen.

Add Variety
Picture books, chapter books, rhyming books… keep the options handy! Make a weekly trip to the library and let the kids pick out what they would like to read. Having a variety of books will keep the pages turning! My summer reading list, broken down by age, is below.

Infants:
“The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” Eric Carle
“Love You Forever,” Robert Munsch
“Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?,” Bill Martin, Jr. and Eric Carle
“Goodnight Moon,” Margaret Wise Brown

Toddlers:
“Five Little Monkeys,” Eileen Christelow
”If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” Laura Numeroff
“Caps for Sale,” Esphyr Slobodkina
“One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish,” Dr. Seuss
“Bear Says Thanks,” Karma Wilson
“Cat in the Hat,” Dr. Seuss

Preschoolers:
“Corduroy,” Don Freeman
“The Snowy Day,” Ezra Jack Keat
“Where the Wild Things Are,” Maurice Sendak
“The Book with No Pictures,” B. J. Novak
“The Little Engine That Could,” Watty Piper
“Green Eggs and Ham,” Dr. Seuss
“The Giving Tree,” Shel Silverstein

Kindergartners:
“Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,” Judith Viorst
“Hansel and Gretel,” Fairy Tale
“The Rainbow Fish,” Marcus Pfister
“The Velveteen Rabbit,” Margery Williams