The challenge of teaching the Habits of Mind to very young students isn’t the language involved – children love the vocabulary, because they love anything that makes them feel like briefcase carrying grown-ups. The challenge lies in ingraining the meaning of the words. This is always going to be tough, because attributes like “managing impulsivity” and “thinking flexibly” are inherently intangible. One can say and hear “persist” a thousand times, and many adults do, without ever really understanding the practical applications of ‘persisting’ behavior. Teaching what persisting looks like, sounds like, and what it is to practice ‘persistence’ in one’s approach to new challenges—these are crucial elements when instilling habits into young minds.
So when Dr. Art Costa and I were considering how we could make the Habits of Mind more accessible to children in K – 2nd grade, it was as though a lightbulb flicked on: “Why not animate?”
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