Growing Thinkers with the Habits of Mind

On Thursday morning of March 30, our wonderful and highly knowledgeable Assistant Principal, Ms. Rossana Awais, presented a workshop titled “Growing Thinkers with the Habits of Mind“. P.S. 222’s Principal, Assistant Principal, teachers and our entire school community believes that The Habits of Mind is essential in the academic and social learning of our students which continues to impact on their success throughout their lifetime.

The Habits of Mind are a set of 16 behaviors that people use when confronted with problems. Ms. Awais stated that we are always confronted with different problems in school and home and offered the following examples: 1) I don’t know how to solve this tricky math word problem; 2) I didn’t understand the text; 3) He doesn’t want to be my friend; and 4) I want that toy now!

As parents, we can reinforce the Habits of Mind at home by: 1) Expressing the behaviors in the present tense; 2) Modeling the Habits of Mind we want our children to practice; 3) Repeatedly referring to the Habits of Mind; and 4) Recognize and cheer when our children practice the Habits of Mind.

As you view the chart, you can see that 1) Listening with Understanding and Empathy, 2) Managing Impulsivity; and 3) Persisting are integrated across the three grades, kindergarten to Grade 2. In school, listening with understanding and empathy is demonstrated by a student listening quietly and giving eye contact to another child as he or she is speaking and responding in kind. In school, managing impulsivity is demonstrated by a student who wants to call out but understands that he or she has to wait his or her turn. In school, persisting is demonstrated by a student who completes a difficult multi-step math problem.

Ms. Awais shared some suggestions on how parents can help reinforce the three aforementioned habits of mind behaviors. At home, listening with understanding and empathy is manifested when their child tells them, “You’re not listening to me!” or “You don’t understand me” and the parent replies by asking, “What seems to be the problem here?” We, as parents, should encourage our children to give an account of what happened and why they feel the way they do. Parents should also ask open-ended questions, such as “How would you feel if…?” and “What could you do to..?” to help the children solve their own problems. At home, managing impulsivity is manifested when their child demands the parents to take him or her to the park before doing homework and the parents react by explaining to the child that the child needs to be patient, finish his or her homework and that then they will go to the park. In other impulsive circumstances, the child can be asked to count to 10 before sharing his or her thoughts in order to encourage thought and reflection. At home, persisting is manifested when a child says, “I can’t do this” or “It’s too hard” and the parents respond by having the child stop and analyze what the problem is and helping the child break the problem apart into steps which would make the problem more manageable. When progress is made, a celebration should take place. It is also sometimes important to take a break when persisting through a problem.

Make no mistake, this is important work. It’s not enough for children nowadays to learn how to read, write and do math. It is imperative for them to know what to do when faced with challenging problems or questions to which the answer is not readily known.

If you have any further questions on this topic of Habits of Mind, please feel free to speak to your child’s teacher or Ms. Awais.