Tuesday, January 11, 2011

great reads for parents and educators

I will devour any book or reading material if I think it will help me become a better parent or educator - and I just can't get enough of these two books: Raising Happiness by Christine Carter and Mind in the Making by Ellen Galinsky. Keep your pen and paper (or Ipad) handy because you'll want to take notes when you read them!

Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents
Photo copyright at http://www.amazon.com/.

Raising Happiness is my new bible. The author speaks as if she were chatting to a friend on the phone, but her observations and advice is based on sound, documented research and lots of her own parenting "oops" moments. This book is chock full of realistic methods and specific techniques that a parent, caregiver, or educator could use to help encourage the skills and emotional literacy that children need to develop habits of happiness. I particularly love Carter's points about the importance of maintaining a "growth mind-set", her "ways to raise kind children", and her geniusly simple problem-resolving steps. Please, I beg of you, READ THIS BOOK! To learn more, go to http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/raising_happiness/.

Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs
Photo copyright at http://www.amazon.com/.

Mind in the Making discusses the "seven essential life skills every child needs". In fact, I know plenty of adults that need some of these skills, including myself! This book provides useful insight into the science of a developing brain, which has helped me better understand why some behavioral strategies are more effective than others (especially where my preschoolers are concerned). For example, there is a passage about the importance of focus and self-control, along with practical activities to try. The author provides case studies and research findings which help explain how our brains are wired and how they respond to our educational approaches differently. Mind in the Making is a fascinating read and ties in nicely with the emotional literacy piece that Raising Happiness highlights.

If you find yourself snowed in any time soon, I hope you'll have the great fortune of reading both of these books. I plan to put this information to good use in my classroom and at home. I am happy to say (get it?) that I'm already practicing "loving-kindness", but you'll have to read up to see what it's all about!

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Yes, peas are delicious - and funny!

Yes, peas are delicious - and funny!
Our little guy at 15 months, February 2011.