4 Life Lessons Every Grandparent Should Teach Their Grandkids

These core values give kids a great foundation for living a successful life

By Jennifer Kelly Geddess

Setting a good example for your grandchildren may seem like a no-brainer, but grandparents are uniquely positioned to teach some real life skills.

“Often grandparents can spend more quiet time with grandkids than parents, so this is a great opportunity to pass along a little wisdom,” suggests Karen Wrolson, M.S., a life coach and founder of Excite Ed!, an educational and motivational consultancy. Sitting, talking and really listening to your grandchildren as you share life lessons can make a big difference in how they live their lives—and often they’ll listen to you when they won’t listen to their parents. Four lessons you should teach…>>

Lesson #1: Life isn’t always easy

What it teaches: Empathy. Tuning in to another person’s perspective is at the heart of empathy—and when taught correctly it might prevent future bullying.

How to begin: Doing a good turn for others is a classic way to explain empathy and also make a difference in your community. “Set up a regular volunteer activity so your grandchild can learn about people in need and see that he has the ability to change someone’s life for the better,” says Wrolson. Raking a neighbor’s leaves every week, helping to build a wheelchair ramp at a church or packing care bags for women and kids in a homeless shelter are just a few ways to start. As you work, share a time when you were in need of help or understanding. Your hard-earned experience on the receiving end of empathy makes the lesson real to your grandkids.

Lesson #2: Be thankful for everything

What it teaches: Gratitude. It’s more than just saying ‘thanks’ when someone hands you something. Strive to teach kids to appreciate all they have.

How to begin: “Have your grandchild thank people fully, going beyond a simple ‘thanks’, and express why they like the gift or how they’ll use it,” says Wrolson. Make a greater impact by reviving the ancient art of the thank-you note—still an important skill in the digital age—and help her to pen one. You could also make a point of expressing gratitude when you’re together, even for the smallest pleasures (green lights on the road, beautiful sunshine, a smile at the grocery store).

Lesson #3: Treat others as you would want to be treated

What it teaches: Respect. It’s admiration and kindness rolled into one, and a little bit goes a long way. It’s also a cool song (play it and dance together!).

How to begin: Talk about respecting everyone, including teachers, cashiers, store clerks, and then model it for your grandchild, insists Wrolson.

Respect means listening carefully when someone speaks, looking that person in the eye and extending common courtesy (holding the door, offering a seat). It also covers personal property, so remind your grandchild to pick up toys so others won’t trip and fall and to put the sweatshirt she borrowed from her brother in his dresser, rather than leave it on the floor. This behavior can sometimes be forgotten from generation to generation so bring it back when you’re together.

Because you’ve spent a longer life learning how to deal with people, you can demonstrate the advantages that come with showing respect. And whatever you do, curb your own comments and generalizations (‘cops are never where you need them’ or ‘kids today don’t understand anything’). These remarks label groups unfairly.

Lesson #4: Lying won’t get you anywhere

What it teaches: Honesty. Telling the truth, even when it’s unpopular, is the hardest lesson of all.

How to begin: Everyone’s lied and regretted it so bring up a misgiving or two from your past and explain how you would have done things differently if you’d known better. Of course it’s tempting to fib here and there, but even the littlest of kids can detect an untruth. Avoiding a scary topic or whitewashing for safety reasons is bound to happen, though much of the time honesty can and should rule the roost.

Teach truthfulness by sticking to your word. Kids will remember if you don’t do what you promised (i.e., take them to the park after nap time) and might view you as dishonest. Also explain why honesty is important and what can happen to trust if a child gets caught in a lie. The other side of this lesson is to praise your grandkid when he admits to doing something he shouldn’t have. Covering up a mistake or bad behavior is a natural tendency, so be sure to let him know how proud you are that he came to you with the truth.

 

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Creating Innovators: Why America’s Education System Is Obsolete

Reblogged From: http://www.forbes.com/sites/ericaswallow/2012/04/25/creating-innovators/

America’s last competitive advantage — its ability to innovate — is at risk as a result of the country’s lackluster education system, according to research by Harvard Innovation Education Fellow Tony Wagner.

Taking the stage at Skillshare’s Penny Conference, Wagner pointed out the skills it takes to become an innovator, the downfalls of America’s current education system, and how parents, teachers, mentors, and employers can band together to create innovators.

“Today knowledge is ubiquitous, constantly changing, growing exponentially… Today knowledge is free. It’s like air, it’s like water. It’s become a commodity… There’s no competitive advantage today in knowing more than the person next to you. The world doesn’t care what you know. What the world cares about is what you can do with what you know.”

Knowledge that children are encouraged to soak up in American schools — the memorization of planets, state capitals, the Periodic Table of Elements — can only take students so far. But “skill and will” determine a child’s ability to think outside of the box, he says.

Over two year of research involving interviews with executives, college teachers, community leaders, and recent graduates, Wagner defined the skills needed for Americans to stay competitive in an increasingly globalized workforce. As lined out in his book, “The Global Achievement Gap,” that set of core competencies that every student must master before the end of high school is:

– Critical thinking and problem solving (the ability to ask the right questions)

–  Collaboration across networks and leading by influence

– Agility and adaptability

– Initiative and entrepreneurialism

– Accessing and analyzing information

– Effective written and oral communication

– Curiosity and imagination

For his latest book, “Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change The World,” Wagner has extended his studies to address the problem of how we teach students these skills. He has come to the conclusion that our country’s economic problems are based in its education system.

“We’ve created an economy based on people spending money they do not have to buy things they may not need, threatening the planet in the process,” he says. “We have to transition from a consumer-driven economy to an innovation-driven economy.”

In an effort to discern teaching and parenting patterns, Wagner interviewed innovators in their 20s, followed by interviews with their parents and the influential teachers and mentors in the students’ lives. He found stunning similarities between the teaching styles and goals he encountered with these influential teachers at all levels of education and concludes, “The culture of schooling as we all know it is radically at odds with the culture of learning that produces innovators.” He identified five ways in which America’s education system is stunting innovation:

1. Individual achievement is the focus: Students spend a bulk of their time focusing on improving their GPAs — school is a competition among peers. “But innovation is a team sport,” says Wagner. “Yes, it requires some solitude and reflection, but fundamentally problems are too complex to innovate or solve by oneself.”

2. Specialization is celebrated and rewarded:High school curriculum is structured using Carnegie units, a system that is 125 years old, says Wagner. He says the director of talent at Google once told him, “If there’s one thing that educators need to understand, it’s that you can neither understand nor solve problems within the context and bright lines of subject content.” Wagner declares, “Learning to be an innovator is about learning to cross disciplinary boundaries and exploring problems and their solutions from multiple perspectives.”

3. Risk aversion is the norm: “We penalize mistakes,” says Wagner. “The whole challenge in schooling is to figure out what the teacher wants. And the teachers have to figure out what the superintendent wants or the state wants. It’s a compliance-driven, risk-averse culture.” Innovation, on the other hand, is grounded in taking risks and learning via trial and error. Educators could take a note from design firm IDEO with its mantra of “Fail early, fail often,” says Wagner. And at Stanford’s Institute of Design, he says they are considering ideas like, “We’re thinking F is the new A.” Without failure, there is no innovation.

4. Learning is profoundly passive: For 12 to 16 years, we learn to consume information while in school, says Wagner. He suspects that our schooling culture has actually turned us into the “good little consumers” that we are. Innovative learning cultures teach about creating, not consuming, he says.

5. Extrinsic incentives drive learning: “Carrots and sticks, As and Fs,” Wagner remarks. Young innovators are intrinsically motivated, he says. They aren’t interested in grading scales and petty reward systems. Parents and teachers can encourage innovative thinking by nurturing the curiosity and inquisitiveness of young people, Wagner says. As he describes it, it’s a pattern of “play to passion to purpose.” Parents of innovators encouraged their children to play in more exploratory ways, he says. “Fewer toys, more toys without batteries, more unstructured time in their day.” Those children grow up to find passions, not just academic achievement, he says. “And that passion matures to a profound sense of purpose. Every young person I interviewed wants to make a difference in the world, put a ding in the universe.”

“”We have to transition to an innovation-driven culture, an innovation-driven society,” says Wagner. “A consumer society is bankrupt — it’s not coming back. To do that, we’re going to have to work with young people — as parents, as teachers, as mentors, and as employers — in very different ways. They want to, you want to become innovators. And we as a country need the capacity to solve more different kinds of problems in more ways. It requires us to have a very different vision of education, of teaching and learning for the 21st century. It requires us to have a sense of urgency about the problem that needs to be solved.”

Wagner is not suggesting we change a few processes and update a few manuals. He says, “The system has become obsolete. It needs reinventing, not reforming.”

20 Ways to “Reset” When the Kids Are Having a Hard Day

by LISA on FEBRUARY 22, 2012
Deep Breath
I call out, “Deep breath!” Then everyone stands up and we all take long, slow breaths while we raise our hands over our heads. Then we let the air out slowly while we lower our arms. The whole movement is very slow and purposeful. We might do that a few times, then go back to our regular day.

Jumping Jacks
We all stop what we are doing and do 20 jumping jacks. This is especially good when they seem to have extra energy and need to use it. It’s hilarious to see the littler ones trying to coordinate their arms and legs

The Color Game
If its not raining I take a stack of construction paper (each piece a different color), some tape and some tacks (I used to leave these in a drawer by the front door) and take it all outside. I tack or tape a whole piece of the paper to trees, the car, a bush, the front door….making sure they are spread out but I can see all of the colors from my chair (that I have set in the middle of it all). Then I sit in the chair and gather all of the kids around me and I say, “Ready……RED!” Then they have to find the red paper and run to it. Once they are all there I call out another color and we keep doing it until they are exhausted. Sometimes I modify the game by calling a kid’s name with a color. You can let the older ones go faster with this version.

Play Stations in the Kitchen
Fill the sink half full with water & utensils, fill a 9×13 pan with rice, another with straws, a plastic bowl with beans. Set it all on the kitchen counter (table, whatever) and set the timer for 5 minutes. They play at each station for only 5 minutes then they switch. You stay in the kitchen
with them the whole time giving attention to their made up games. In 20 minutes it’s over.

Emergency Toys
I keep toys tucked high up in a closet for just such an occasion. Pull them out of the closet and set the timer for 30 minutes. Once the timer goes off….the toys get put away for at least a month. That’s the only way they will work the next time.

Play a Game
We’ll all sit and play something unbelievably dull, like Go Fish or a simple board game. Sometimes all they need is for you to stop and give them your full attention for 15 minutes.

Music
Music is a-MAZing for this kind of problem. If I don’t have the time to play games or make pans of rice in the kitchen, I will turn on some fun kid music and we’ll all dance around to one song. Mommy dances too (and Daddy if he’s home). One song can reset everyone’s attitude.

Tear Paper
Sometimes we all just need to do something wild and completely unexpected. So I will give each child 3 pieces of construction paper and we’ll stand in a circle and when I say, “GO!” we all start tearing up our paper and throwing it on the floor. We jump around and scream and laugh and giggle and fall down and throw the paper around for about 5 minutes. Then I say, “STOP!” and we have to clean it up as quickly and silly as we can.

Lie on the Grass
Often, when it’s not too wet, cold, hot….we go outside and lie on the grass. Everyone takes turns telling what they see in the clouds or, if there’s no cloud, I will ask them a question and we take turns answering. Sometimes we will do it on the trampoline instead of the grass.

Baths
These are not get-clean baths. These are play-baths. 15 minutes in the tub with a few toys and no washing hair. Just time to stop everything and play in the water.

Read a Book
If everyone is tired I will grab a book and read it aloud in an unusual way…with an accent, like a monster, while acting it out, hanging upside down off of the couch….something that makes it different.

Hold Hands
Sometimes everyone just needs Mom for a few minutes. So we’ll hold hands and walk around, outside if possible but inside works too. I’ll say something like, “Tell me what you liked about today,” and we’ll walk and talk and touch for a few minutes.

Quizzes
I’ll line them up in front of me and zing them with questions. They have to answer really quickly and if they take too long I say, “Zing!” and they have to fall down and get back up again. (If you’re not feeling creative, just think of a favorite book or movie and ask them questions about
that, “What’s the name of the character that_____,” “Who had the last line in the movie?” “What color was ____ wearing when she was running?”, etc.) This is especially good for nursing moms that need to sit for a few minutes and the older kids are needing attention.

Color Their Name
I write their name in really big, puffy letters and they get 3 Crayons to color it in. No sharing, no trading…just 3 colors…GO! If they like to write, they can draw your name and you color it.

Have a Snack

You sit with them and talk for just a few minutes. Don’t set them down and walk off. Just sit there for a few minutes and toast your glasses together and say, “To a better day!” and eat a little something.

The Whisper Game
I say, “Let’s plat the Whisper Game!” and set the timer for 5-10 minutes. That whole time you sit and talk but everyone has to whisper. Do what you can to make it silly and animated, like lean to their ears or tiptoe around the room while you’re whispering.

Animals
I sit on the couch and and gather them around, with an arm length between them. Then I call out animals and they have to act like that animal until I change the animal. I might switch it up by calling out a specific child’s name with an animal.

Slow Down
This one is good to do after any of the other activities. We all move and talk in slow motion. I will walk around and they follow me and do what I do….all in slow motion. Then I give them turns being the leader. This is fun, but it takes the energy back down and you’re ready to go back to normal

Drink Something Green
I put green food coloring in either lemonade or water. I gather everyone in the kitchen and give everyone a glass of “Green Goop” and we all drink it at the same time. We drink it as fast as we can and be silly. If it’s been a really rough day, burping is a must.

Crawling
I have everyone put shoes on their hands and crawl around until I say stop. Then they have to freeze like a statue until I say go. Sometimes I’ll call out pieces of furniture for them to crawl to. We’ll do this for about 15 minutes then stop and put the shoes away.

The Mystery Game
Fill a few “lidded” cups with 10 mystery items each (I use leftover yogurt containers). In the first cup put 10 beans, in another 10 toothpicks, in the third put 10 cotton balls, and so on. Cheerios, rocks, paper clips, macaroni, marshmallows, Cheetos, safety pins, etc. In a separate bowl put one of each item (a bean, a toothpick, a Cheerio, etc. all in the same bowl). Put lids on the cups and line them on the counter. The child has to figure out what is in the cup by shaking it and taking the matching item out of the bowl and setting it on the cup lid. Once they have figured it all out they can eat the little snacks in the cups. If you have more than one child doing it, they can take turns or you can make a set for each child.

Yarn Obstacle Course
Place several chairs together in a random pattern around the room. Using a ball of yarn, wind the yarn from chair to chair. The children must stand in one corner of the room and get to the opposite corner, touching every chair but not touching the yarn. Once everyone has made it all the way across, you cut all of the yarn into little pieces and they have to throw the pieces away as quickly as possible only carrying one piece of yarn at a time.

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