Let me start with full disclosure: I adore Ellen Galinsky’s work. I’ve read all her books, follow her on twitter, love her website, Mindinthemaking.org, and have been an avid fan of the Families and Work Institute (of which she is President and Co-founder) for over a decade. Her commitment and research that focuses on early learning is stellar. But her latest book, Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs just put her in the “Child Development Expert Hall of Fame.”
Ellen has spent her entire career studying early childhood development. She’s visited leading research centers, met with the top child experts and researchers, filmed their experiments and studied their results. She also found a huge gap between what researchers have discovered in the child development field and what parents know about these crucial findings. That is until now.
Galinsky put those top 100 scientific findings into a valuable resource that brings the science of early learning to families and to the professionals who work with children. Mind in the Making:The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs shows parents how to use that research with their children from birth until age eight making it an absolute must-read.
But she takes her findings another step by identifying seven essential life skills that will help our children reach their full potential. (Earth to parents: These skills must be taught to our children and do not come naturally). These are the skills we MUST teach our children in this twenty-first century. But the best news is that Galinsky shows busy parents ways they really can teach those skills using simple everyday things in just new ways.
Galisnky’s Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs
Here are the seven life skills Galinsky identified as essential for every child to learn based on her review of hundreds of scientific studies. I’ve taken the liberty of using her exact definitions.
Skill One: Focus and Self-Control: Children need this skill in order to achieve their goals, especially in a world that is filled with distractions and information overload. It involves paying attention, remembering the rules, thinking flexibility, and exercising self-control.
Skill Two: Perspective Taking: Perspective goes far beyond empathy: it involves figuring out what others think and feel, and forms the basis of children understanding their parents’ and teachers’ intentions. Children who can take others’ perspectives are also much less likely to get involved in conflicts.
Skill Three: Communicating: Communication is much more than understanding language, speaking, reading, and writing–it is the skill of determining what one wants to communicate and realizing how our communications will be understood by others. It is the skill that teachers and employers feel is most lacking today.
Skill Four: Making Connections: Making connections is at the core of learning (what’s the same and what’s different) and making unusual connections is at the core of creativity. In a world where people can goggle for information, it is the people who can see the connection who will succeed.
Skill Five: Critical Thinking: Critical thinking is the ongoing search for valid and reliable knowledge to guide beliefs, decision, and actions.
Skill Six: Taking on Challenges: Life is full of stresses and challenges. Children who are willing to take on challenges (instead of avoid them) do better in school and in life.
Skill Seven: Self-Directed, Engaged Learning (Pursuing Ongoing Learning): It is through learning that we can realize our potential. As the world changes, so can we, for as long as we live–as long as we learn.
Ellen has made an invaluable contribution to parents and educators. These findings are essential to ensure that our children–all children–reach their potential. The findings in this book will also be presented to Congress and at events in every state.
My recommendation: get a copy of this book, give a copy to another parent, and recommend that every library and early childhood educator has one on their shelf. Mind in the Making is one of those rare and glorious books that will make a difference on our children’s lives and future.