Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Brainfood for Back to School

I've been studying a lot lately about intrinsic motivation and the role that praise plays in fostering a child's volition to do well. I encourage you to join me in rethinking our ingrained habits of praise because a growing body of research is showing that complimenting innate talents such as intellect or athletic ability can have some negative consequences.
You may be in utter disbelief at this point.  We have all certainly seen "that parent".  The one who never cuts their child a break, never throws him or her a crumb.  I'm not suggesting that we turn into "that parent" but here is why we should consider not being the "you are so smart" parent...

Carol Dweck from Stanford University has studied the effects of praise on motivating kids.  Her researchers worked with 400 fifth graders. They administered each of them a relatively easy series of IQ puzzles and then randomly praised either their intelligence: “You must be smart at this” or their effort: “You must have worked really hard.”  That's it - the only variable was which 6 words would be said, “You must be smart at this,” or  “You must have worked really hard.”  Then, the researchers asked the kids whether they wanted to take on a more challenging puzzle that would help them learn in the process, or do another easy one.  
  • 90% of the "you must have worked really hard" group chose the harder test.
  • The majority of the "you must be smart at this" group chose the easier one.
NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCE: children become risk averse, avoiding challenges so that they can continue to look smart and avoid embarrassment.

Next, the researchers administered a 7th grade test to the 5th grade students. As expected, all of them failed.  In the face of failure the demeanor of the groups couldn't have been more different.  In 2007, Po Bronson of New York Magazine reported that,
Those praised for their effort on the first test assumed they simply hadn’t focused hard enough on this test. “They got very involved, willing to try every solution to the puzzles,” Dweck recalled. “Many of them remarked, unprovoked, ‘This is my favorite test.’ ” Not so for those praised for their smarts. They assumed their failure was evidence that they weren’t really smart at all. “Just watching them, you could see the strain. They were sweating and miserable.”
Having artificially induced a round of failure, Dweck’s researchers then gave all the fifth-graders a final round of tests that were engineered to be as easy as the first round. Those who had been praised for their effort significantly improved on their first score—by about 30 percent. Those who’d been told they were smart did worse than they had at the very beginning—by about 20 percent.
NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCE: when children are praised for smarts their performance is impaired after setbacks, as kids lose faith in what they believed were innate abilities.
Dweck and her team conducted other research which concluded that frequently praised children are shown to be more competitive and focused on undermining others.  40% of those praised for their intelligence lied to their peers in overstating their scores. 
NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCE: abundant praise fosters negative competitiveness and, not infrequently, cheating.
Dweck explains, “Emphasizing effort gives a child a variable that they can control, they come to see themselves as in control of their success. Emphasizing natural intelligence takes it out of the child’s control, and it provides no good recipe for responding to a failure.”
  • Teach your children that the brain is like a muscle. The harder it works, the stronger it gets and the smarter you become
  • When you praise, be specific and focus on the process and effort, rather than implying innate smarts or talent.  Praise them for focusing, listening, demonstrating tenacity.
    • Examples from Stanford Magazine
      • "That homework so long and involved. I really admire the way you concentrated and finished it."
      • "That picture has so many beautiful colors; tell me about them."
      • "You put so much thought into that essay.  I makes me think about Shakespeare in a new way."
  • Take the fright out of failure.  Avoiding the topic of failure makes it seem terrible, thus discouraging challenges.  After a failure encourage a Thomas Edison-esque approach, "I haven't failed, I've just found 10,000 ways it won't work."
Please leave a comment and tell me your thoughts about this.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Reflecting on 10 Years

 "...be sure to enjoy it, they grow so fast."  I have heard this from any number of people who have seen me enjoying time with my kids.  Looking back over these 10 years I realize that cliche's are based in fact.  Ten years ago Bip was only 3; Yummy was 1; and Bizzy and Jelly existed only in my dreams. Another dream was coming true though, I was embarking on  a new endeavor as a teacher and business owner.

I began Kindermusik because I desperately missed teaching.  I taught 6th grade at Emory Markle Intermediate School  for 5 years before Bip was born.  My passion for teaching remained strong, but my desire to stay home with my children was equally present.  Kindermusik filled the void splendidly.

Back then I could never have pictured what August 2011 would be like, and I certainly would not have dared to dream life could be this good.  Ten years later, my children are all school age (Jelly starts Kindergarten this year) and Kindermusik with Ann Czeponis has expanded from classes at the studio to, Birthday Parties, Daycares, PreK's, School Field Trips and more.

Time has passed quickly. In the blink of an eye my family, my business, and my clients have grown up.  Thank you to all of you who have been there along the way.  I've said it before and I'll say it again... I have the best job in the world and Kindermusik families are the reason why.

I don't have pictures from our first studio at 4th & Vine Sts, but I thought I'd share with you the transformation of our current studio.  We moved in Aug 2006.  The music is by the Shannon Marsyada Trio. the song is called "Where Dreams Come In" it is about stepping out of your comfort zone and following your dream.  The trio's bassist is Lisa Welch the art teacher who has been a Kindermusik collaborator since 2004. Lisa currently offers classes Tuesday evenings at the Kindermusik studio.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Felicia B. is a big sister!
Little brother Carson was born July 25th -- 7 lbs. 1 oz. -- 19 3/4"

Welcome to the world little guy - you sure are lucky to have such a great big sis.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Like our Facebook Page

Aug. 10 marks the 10th Anniversary of my Kindermusik licensure. I hope to have 200 fans on my Kindermusik Facebook Page by then. At the time of this writing I have 152.  I'm soooo close.

If you LIKE my page you will be the first to know about special offers, events and updates.  There will be some giveaways that only will be available to facebook fans (pssst.... there will also be some that will only be available to those of you who check the blog regularly, too). 

Go to the Kindermusik with Ann Czeponis Facebook page (click on the cool thumbs up baby to the right) and LIKE US.  Then see about our latest special offer - How can you win a pair of shakey eggs?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Pictures from Storytime at the library

Our story time was designed around the book, Miss Rumphius
  • Our musical activities included:
  • Down on Grandpa's Farm
  • Monkey See/Monkey Do Dancing
  • Sally the Camel
  • Wipeout beachball volley
  • Flower Dance/fireworks with scarves
  • plus many, many more

    The MCA Public Library has established a stellar reading program that reaches 100s of children through the summer.  Their efforts are to be admired and commended.  Great Job Ladies!!!! You do important work.