Habits of Mind in the News

In the Washington Post, LifeCompass Associate Director Deborah Farmer Kris shares advice drawn from Montrose's unique Habits of Mind class.
In her article, Mrs. Kris draws from the curriculum of the Habits of Mind class which she teaches to all new students to Montrose. 

Titled "Daydreaming is good for you, and other things I want kids to know about their brains," it tells of her desire to teach her 8-year-old daughter about how the brain learns: 

One afternoon, I wrote out 10 insights I wanted to share with her this year — and that I hope to foster through my actions and attitude for years to come.

The brain never stops growing. Brains are amazing. They are constantly growing and changing shape. Everything we do affects our brain. And it goes beyond schoolwork. Anything that is good for a child’s body is also good for their brain. When children play outside, eat healthy food, read a book, move their body, enjoy time with their friends, observe their surroundings, get a good night’s sleep, play a game or figure out a puzzle, they are feeding their brain.

Learning is all about brain chains. When you learn something new, you build a neural pathway — or what learning expert Barbara Oakley calls “brain chains.” The more you practice a skill, the thicker the chain gets, until the task (such as solving a certain kind of math problem) becomes automatic. For example, when you first sit down to learn a song on the piano, it’s slow going. You focus on every note. But after a while, you can sit down and play the piece smoothly and accurately because you have a brain chain for that song. Every new skill is hardest at the beginning — and that’s when a child will be tempted to give up and say “I can’t do it!” Encourage them to change that to, “I can’t do it … yet.”

Continue reading.

Mrs. Kris, Montrose faculty member and associate director of the LifeCompass Institute at Montrose School, is also a contributor to NPR and PBS Parents.

For more practical wisdom, visit our LifeCompass blog.