Friends of the Truckee Library: Mind in the Making: Self-directed, engaged learning | SierraSun.com
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Friends of the Truckee Library: Mind in the Making: Self-directed, engaged learning

Teri Andrews Rinne
Special to the Sun

EDITORand#8217;S NOTE: Final Installment in the Series on and#8220;Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needsand#8221; by Ellen Galinsky. Find the previous articles at sierrasun.com, search Rinne.

TRUCKEE and#8212; Author Ellen Galinsky began her quest that led to and#8220;Mind in the Makingand#8221; in her attempt to reconcile two contrasting images. One is the image of infants who are unstoppable learners and#8212; eager to see, touch, understand and master everything. Itand#8217;s a learning instinct that is almost a survival skill, and also a source of deep pleasure and joy. The other image is of children in grades six to 12 who seem deadened by the notion of learning. What happens to extinguish the passion for learning? Galinsky sets out to find out how children learn best, what makes them stay motivated and engaged in learning and what can be done to rekindle that motivation if it has been dulled?

Think about a time when either you or someone else wanted you to learn something, but it didnand#8217;t happen. Why not? What stood in the way of your learning? Galinsky posits thereand#8217;s a person in your story and#8212; someone who didnand#8217;t make you feel good about yourself, who didnand#8217;t connect with you or with what you felt you needed to know, who was confusing, or who didnand#8217;t seem to care. These were the kinds of roadblocks to learning she heard about from young people all over the country.-

Galinsky outlines seven principles that unleash childrenand#8217;s passionate desire to learn:

1. Establish a trustworthy relationship with your child because human relationships are the building blocks of healthy development and young childrenand#8217;s achievements occur in the context of close relationships with others.

2. Help children set and work toward their own goals. In younger children, this could take the form of encouraging a childand#8217;s desire to explore and helping them learn to plan.

3. Involve children socially, emotionally and intellectually. While adults tend to differentiate among different types of learning, they are not necessarily distinct, especially when children are truly engaged in learning.

4. Elaborate and extend childrenand#8217;s learning. The example used was mothers conversing with their preschool-aged children about past experiences. The highly elaborative style of mother discussed the past in rich detail, asked lots of open-ended questions, often repeated what the child said, provided feedback to the child and showed a genuine interest in what the child was saying.

5. Help children practice, synthesize and generalize by promoting curiosity, have children explain what they are learning, and by directing instruction and discovery.

6. Help children become increasingly accountable by making expectations for success clear, catching children doing something positive, and praise effort, not intelligence.

7. Create a community of learners because we teach best when we are learning and when we are practicing what we are preaching.

It is through learning we realize our potential. It is through learning our minds become attuned, ready to meet whatever life brings. As the world changes, so can we, for as long as we live and#8212; as long as we learn. Hereand#8217;s to lifelong learning and the library as the perfect place to facilitate the process for all ages!

and#8226; Truckee Library, 10031 Levon Ave., 530-582-7846, mynevadacounty.com/library


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