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Topic: Behavior

Play Hard, Study Hard: What Cognitive Skills Tell Us

November 30, 2016

Research on cognitive skills gives powerful insight into what we should generally expect from children behaviorally, emotionally and academically at every age. Scientists from University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine Brain Behavior Lab evaluated nearly 10,000 children ages 8 to 21. They began with fMRI scans and then moved to an online assessment to analyze brain development at every age. Their data is fascinating. What We’ve Known About Cognitive Skills We’ve know for a long time that childhood is a period of rapid brain development. It is important that students shouldn’t be coasting and they shouldn’t be stretched too far beyond their comfort zone. In other words, they should be working in a state of “desirable difficulties” according to Dr. Robert A. Bjork. What’s News About Cognitive Skills from the Brain… Read More

goldilocks principle and cognitive skills

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Stubborn Child? When It’s a Can’t, Not a Won’t

December 17, 2015

In October I attended the Association of Educational Therapists conference and heard Dr. Tina Bryson’s keynote. She had plenty of great advice, best summed up this way: “When a kid’s not behaving, what if it’s a can’t, not a won’t?” How many of us have told a child that he’s simply not trying hard enough, or threatened punishments for a kid who doesn’t listen? No doubt, we parents and teachers are often justified in our exasperation. It is our responsibility to teach children to work hard and respect adults. We certainly are correct in assigning appropriate consequences when they don’t listen. But when it’s a pattern of behavior, it’s time to consider if the approach needs to change. Realistically, every child wants to succeed and no child wants… Read More

I can

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Keep that Elf on the Shelf

December 24, 2014

By Sarah Vander Schaaff A few years ago, I interviewed the British Philosopher Alain de Botton for my Lunch Box Mom blog and asked him if it was ethical for me to use Santa and his “nice list” as a way to motivate my children to behave.  My kids, as many of yours, are no longer firm believers in Santa, but a variation of the question pops up in other aspects of parenting. Maybe it’s the Dean’s List, and not Santa’s list, and maybe the rewards are privileges instead of presents, but the fundamental idea of using an outside arbiter and the promise of something good in exchange for particular behavior is the same. Here is a reposting of the… Read More


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