August 29, 2013

Beyond Intelligence

hands joining in the centreIntelligence matters. At the same time, however, achievement, success, happiness, and fulfillment in life are built on a lot of different factors that go beyond intelligence, at least as intelligence is conventionally defined. Some children are academically advanced, and others make friends easily. Some kids are inclined to athletics, and some excel at music. Some are great at mathematical analysis, and others have well-developed ‘street smarts.’ Continue reading

February 18, 2015

Four Ways to Help Kids Address Their Mess (with Less Stress!)

boy with arms crossed

When kids’ clutter gets out of hand, what can parents do, and what should they say?

Kids often CAN but WON’T do things – like tidying up their rooms– and often CAN and DO come up with reasonable explanations for avoiding tasks. Perhaps they’re taking their time weighing options, or planning, or reflecting on the process. Or maybe they’re overwhelmed or uncertain where or how to begin.
Here are four ways kids may justify their actions (or inaction), when it comes to cleaning up their clutter, along with some suggestions and reasoning for parents who aren’t quite sure how to respond.

Example #1:

Child: “My room is a mess but I LIKE it like that.”

Response: “Okay. YOU have to live in it. Please make sure there are no crawling things, or health hazards, and that your mess doesn’t filter through the house where the rest of us are.”

Reasoning: Kids have to learn consequences—sooner or later. If your child can’t find clean clothes to wear, or the bedroom floor is getting crusty, or the bed feels and smells more like a dump than a place of rest, then he’ll probably eventually start thinking about clean up possibilities. Offer to provide what’s necessary, like garbage bags, organizing bins, cleansers, air freshener, a laundry hamper, and so on – and maybe a hand if you’re so inclined. (As in assistance, and perhaps applause.) Don’t admonish. Do encourage. (For more on consequences and how to ensure that they’re reasonable, see the related article listed below by parenting coach Marcilie Smith Boyle.)

Example #2:

Child: “I can’t tidy my room because I’m busy. I’ve too many other things to do..”

Response: “It’s great that you’re taking on responsibility. What ONE clean up activity can you add to your list of things to do today please?”

Reasoning: Don’t push too hard to get everything straightened up all at once. One step at a time will create progress. It helps if tasks seem manageable, and aren’t too tedious. Reinforce effort that your child does put forth. And, remember to use the words “please’ and “thank you.” They can be impactful. Positive outcomes don’t just happen, they come about as a result of action and accountability—starting out with a single proactive contribution or step in the right direction, which can lead to feelings of accomplishment, and the impetus to harness momentum.

Example #3:

Child: “I’ll clean up my room when I feel like it, not because YOU order me to.”

Response: “I’m not ordering. I’m not scolding. I’m suggesting. It’s your room, your choice. But maybe we can chat?”

Reasoning: Don’t get drawn into a confrontation or power struggle. It’s counter-productive. De-escalate tension and finger-pointing by staying calm and trying to appeal to reason. Nobody likes to be ordered about, and your child may feel you’re being too demanding. You can talk about that. But keep it short and to the point. For example, you might say you don’t want to be unreasonable, you simply prefer to live in a home that’s relatively neat, and would like that to be respected, in the same way that you respect your child’s preference for certain foods, clothes, and extracurricular activities. If a calm candid chat doesn’t work then you may have to settle for a clean house with one messy room for a while. Take a deep breath and close the door.

Example #4:

Child: “Your desk is not so tidy. I shouldn’t have to straighten up my mess if you don’t clean up yours!”

Response: “You’re right. I’ll try and deal with it. Let’s each set aside some time to tackle our spaces, then maybe we can do something fun together during a break.”

Reasoning: Kids look to their parents to set an example, and you can’t expect them to be neat if they see you’re sloppy or take little pride in your own living or work space. It may seem like they’re being oppositional, but be honest with yourself—is there truth to their claim? When parents demonstrate a willingness to improve their own organization skills and efficiency, it can turn a negatively charged situation into a productive one. And, offering to do something enjoyable together works as incentive and provides opportunity to spend quality time with one another.

For more reasons why kids put things off, and what to do about it, see Not Now, Maybe Later: Helping Children Overcome Procrastination (Great Potential Press, 2015). You’ll find over 250 suggestions for parents. And, here are links to a few more articles that relate to the reasoning I’ve suggested here.

Related Articles:

Struggling To Come Up With “The Right” Consequences? Try This! by Marciie Smith Boyle

What I Did When My Children Refused To Make Their Beds: Choosing My Battles by Sara Dimerman

Get Those Kids To Pitch In! Tips To Get Some Kid Help by Elizabeth Sturm Hanatuke

Clean Bedrooms—It Can Happen At Your House – Amy McCready’s Positive Parenting Solutions

Encouraging Children to Participate in Household Chores by Ariadne Brill, Positive Parenting Connection


By Joanne Foster, EdD.

Joanne Foster is coauthor (with Dona Mathews) of Being Smart about Gifted Education, 2nd Edition (Great Potential Press, 2009) and Beyond Intelligence: Secrets for Raising Happily Productive Kids (Anansi Press, 2014). Dr. Foster also wrote Not Now, Maybe Later: Helping Children Overcome Procrastination (Great Potential Press, 2015).

June 5, 2014

Summertime Can Be Easy, and Happily Productive Too!

girl with carrotsSome parents look toward summer with happy anticipation, building a packed schedule of family activities and outdoor fun. Others wonder how on earth they’re going to keep their kids occupied over the long slow weeks ahead. No matter which camp you’re in–or if you’re somewhere in between and hope to balance times of activity and relaxation–there are ideas and attitudes that can make the summertime happily productive. For everyone! 

The Basics

  1. Make plans with your kids. Ask them how they’d like to spend their summer. (This gets them thinking about the summer months, and helps them take some ownership over how they spend their time.) Do what you can, within reason, to accommodate at least a few of their suggestions.
  2. Focus on imagination and free unstructured play.  Especially for kids whose school year schedule is packed with serious stuff, summer should nurture a sense of freedom and enable them to exercise their creativity.

Continue reading

April 10, 2014

PISA 2012 Creative Problem Solving: International Comparison of High Achievers’ Performance

A thoughtful close analysis of the creative problem-solving component of the most recent PISA scores, with breakdowns by gender, socioeconomic status, and achievement level.

Gifted Phoenix

This post compares the performance of high achievers from selected jurisdictions on the PISA 2012 creative problem solving test.

It draws principally on the material in the OECD Report ‘PISA 2012 Results: Creative Problem Solving’ published on 1 April 2014.

The sample of jurisdictions includes England, other English-speaking countries (Australia, Canada, Ireland and the USA) and those that typically top the PISA rankings (Finland, Hong Kong, South Korea, Shanghai, Singapore and Taiwan).

With the exception of New Zealand, which did not take part in the problem solving assessment, this is deliberately identical to the sample I selected for a parallel post reviewing comparable results in the PISA 2012 assessments of reading, mathematics and science: ‘PISA 2012: International Comparisons of High Achievers’ Performance’ (December 2013)

These eleven jurisdictions account for nine of the top twelve performers ranked by mean overall performance in the problem solving assessment…

View original post 7,278 more words

February 8, 2014

Meeting Diverse Learning Needs: How Parents Can Work toward Changing a Good School to a Great School for All Kids

diverse learning needsWhen a school is already doing a great job with their kids, parents are generally satisfied. However, when change is needed—as in the case of moving toward meeting diverse learning needs—things can get rocky. It’s human to resist change, or feel threatened by it, or believe that a new practice or perspective will disrupt what’s already working very well.

With a visionary school leader, however, working with a team of teachers and parents, a school can make the transition from excellence for most to excellence for all, including meeting the learning needs of children who learn differently for reasons of attention or other kinds of learning problems.  Continue reading

November 5, 2013

How Parents Can Help Kids Build Their Intelligence

How Parents Can Help Their Kids Build Their IntelligenceChildren don’t start off smart. They become that way over time, with the right kinds of supports and learning opportunities at the right times in their lives. Here are four ways parents can actively participate in their child building a foundation for his or her intelligence:

  1. 1.      Appreciate your child’s unique profile of abilities:
  • Recognize that children’s abilities vary by domain—math, music, language, social, etc.—and that each child has a unique profile of intelligences. A child who’s highly capable in one area may have learning challenges in another area.
  • Pay attention to your child’s changing abilities, goals, attitudes, and interests.
  • Use different kinds of information sources, including school grades, and your own and others’ observations of your child’s interests, concerns, persistence, and motivation.
  • By appreciating individual developmental differences, you increase your child’s engagement in learning and intrinsic motivation, which leads to better learning outcomes, greater self-efficacy, and stronger likelihood of happy productivity across her life span. Continue reading
September 1, 2013

Seeing Beyond the Distraction of IQ

rsz a_boy_a_girl_and_a_bookIn our work with families and schools, we’ve noticed that people sometimes confuse encouraging the development of children’s real-world intelligence—that is, raising smarter kids—and raising their IQs. It’s a distinction worth noting. Here’s why.

Intelligence is so much more than a score on a test. Secrets for raising smarter kids include keeping the emphasis on thinking, learning, challenging, creating, finding balance, playing, working hard, collaborating, persevering, and becoming wise. Boosting a child’s real-world intelligence may boost his intelligence test score, but not necessarily. And vice versa. Continue reading

September 1, 2013

How Comforting Kids When They Fail Can Rob Them of Motivation to Learn, by Luc Kumps

thinkingTeachers’ attitudes can have a powerful effect on kids’ motivation. Comforting students when they don’t do well can rob them of their motivation to learn, reduce their likelihood of taking on challenging courses, and lock them into low achievement.

If you believe talent is something a person is born with, or not, you’re more likely than others to give up when faced with difficulties. You’ll think that setbacks indicate the limits of your ability. People who think this way—sometimes called having a ‘fixed mindset’– avoid investing a lot of effort in a task, since effort exposes their lack of natural ability.

Continue reading

September 1, 2013

Music and Intelligence: Nothing Activates More of the Brain than Music

boy playing pianoAlthough wild claims about ‘The Mozart Effect’ have been debunked, it’s true that music education—when it’s done right—can foster the development of intelligence. 

Scientists and intelligent consumers are justifiably sceptical of claims that music increases children’s intelligence. ‘The Mozart Effect’—claims that listening to certain kinds of music, such as Mozart’s sonatas, made children smarter— became wildly successful several years ago, and then was roundly refuted. Listening to Mozart’s sonatas was shown to have very short-term effects (15 minutes) on one form of intelligence (spatial reasoning), and not to improve children’s intelligence in any useful or practical way. Continue reading

September 1, 2013

Boredom and Frustration Help Kids Learn

child buildingKids do better when they have to work hard, and get to experience working through challenges on their own, or with minimal help. Boredom and frustration (in balance!) can be good.

In this article, entitled ‘Raising Successful Children,’ Madeline Levine makes the point that parents should not do for kids what kids can do (or almost do) for themselves.  She also makes the point that it’s important to kids’ eventual well-being and success in all that matters (careers, relationships, health, etc.) that their parents are living lives that they (the parents) find interesting: ‘One of the most important things we do for our children is to present them with a version of adult life that is appealing and worth striving for.’

September 1, 2013

Are Some Kids Born Smart? Or Do They Become Smart?

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Are some kids born smart? Or do they become smart? Is there anything parents and teachers can do to help kids become more intelligent or use their intelligence more productively?

Carol Dweck’s work on mindsets is part of a transformation in progress concerning how people understand giftedness, and how gifted education is delivered. In this article published in the Growth Mindset Blog, we think about some of the myths that are being challenged by recent findings on mindsets and intelligence:

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