During a session I presented on positive guidance, participants were asked to write down words that described life in the world we live in today. The responses described life to be complex, distracting, fast-moving, and stressful. The conclusion was drawn that if this is the way the world is for us now, it will only be more so for our children. As educators and as parents, we do not want our children to simply survive in this world, we want them to thrive.
Ellen Galinsky’s sixth life skill, taking on challenges, helps children to not only cope with stress and challenges but also involves moving onto the next one faced. Taking on challenges calls on many of our executive functions, which may seem like a daunting task to teach, but start small. Children take on challenges when they are given the opportunity to:
Persist in building block towers that fall down or trying to find a puzzle piece that fits
Go somewhere new or try a new food
Figure out a new way to use playground equipment
Talk about a coping strategy that has helped them in the past
The seventh and final life skill is a culmination of the previous six. When students are able to call on executive functions and the six other life skills, they are well on their way to becoming self-directed, engaged learners who continuously seek new knowledge and skills. In the book, Mind in the Making, Ellen Galinsky offers seven principles that ignite this motivation to learn. They are as follows:
Establish a trustworthy relationship with children
Help children set and work toward their own goals
Involve children socially, emotionally, and intellectually
Elaborate on and extend children’s learning
Help children practice, synthesize, and generalize what they have learned
Help children become increasingly accountable
Create a community of learners
When you promote these principles and the six essential life skills I have discussed in past posts, you facilitate children’s learning. Promoting these skills doesn’t require expensive programs and materials. It only requires you to continue doing the everyday things you do with your children in new ways.
This concludes my series on Ellen Galinsky’s seven essential life skills. Remember, it is never too early or too late to develop these skills!
Galinsky, E. (2010). Mind in the making: The seven essential life skills every child needs (NAEYC special ed.). New York: Harper.