Parents weren’t sitting for long at this week’s Lower School Parent Coffee! Janet McMillion and Ashley O’Toole focused their discussion with parents on what they gleaned from a recent conference about learning and brain development. The conference reinforced their belief that fostering creative and innovative thinking is a critical component to academic excellence. To elucidate this concept during their presentation, they led parents through a series of innovative exercises.
For example, one exercise asked parents to form a line and then step forward one at a time to act out part of an object or animal, such as an ardvaark or a dolphin. Lower School parents quickly got into character, each acting as their respective part—the ears, the tongue, the tail and more. Though the parents enjoyed plenty of time monkeying around, it also gave them a glimpse into the growth mindset of their children and what it means to think creatively.
Some of Janet and Ashley’s other key takeaways from the conference were about the need for creative, guided and, at times, unstructured play within the Lower School classroom as well as at home. It is during this crucial stage of life where the brain is still exploring, rather than “exploding” or pruning at the more mature stage of development. Janet and Ashley also emphasized the importance of allowing children to fail at times and how learning from their mistakes will set them up for success.
“What can parents do? Provide plenty of unstructured time outside of school, allow time and space for children to resolve their differences without directly intervening, don’t jump in when you hear the words, ‘I’m bored,’ listen to your language and ask questions, enter your children’s world where they play and share interest and curiosity in their interests,” said Janet.