MITM: The 7 Essential Skills

Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs

Why do some students reach their full potential while other children struggle?

Successful learners have skills that underachievers lack, insists Ellen Galinsky, author of Mind in the Making.

The seven essential skills and why they matter:

  1. Focus and Self Control – Children need this skill in order to achieve their goals, especially in a world filled with distractions and information overload.
  2. Perspective Taking – Children who can figure out what others feel and think are less likely to get involved in conflicts.
  3. Communicating – Children need to be able to determine what they want to communicate and how. This is the skill teachers and employers feel is most lacking today.
  4. Making Connections – Children who can make unusual connections are more creative and can go beyond knowing information to using information well.
  5. Critical Thinking – Children need to be able to search for reliable knowledge to guide their beliefs, decisions and actions.
  6. Taking on Challenges – Children who can take on challenges instead of avoiding or simply coping with them will do better in school and in life.
  7. Self-Directed Engaged Learning – Lifelong learners can change as the world changes in order to reach their full potential.

Known as “executive function skills,” these are the skills that manage our emotions, intellect and behavior — such as focus and self-control.

prov schoolsCan these skills really be taught? Absolutely, says Galinsky. The 16-hour course, a program of the Bezos Family Foundation, offers practical ways parents and teachers can do this within their daily routines at home and in the classroom. Partnering with the Providence Public School Department, Ready to Learn is offering the course to more than 2,500 Providence families, teachers and other school personnel — cafeteria staff, nurses, etc. — who interact with young children. 

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The goal is that all of the adults in a child’s life have a common understanding of these skills, which are not only crucial for success in school, but in the workplace as well. We’re offering the program, in English and Spanish, to all parents and other guardians with a child in the Providence schools, Pre-K to Grade 3, and to school personnel who interact with children in those grades.

We are now in the fourth year of Empowering Families, the program that is bringing Mind in the Making to families and educators in Providence. In January 2018, the external evaluators — the Wellesley Centers for Women out of Wellesley College — released their findings for the first three years of the program. You can see the executive summary here.

For more information, call Tania Quezada (fluent in English and Spanish) at 401.490.9960

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On March 12, 2016, Galinsky came to Ready to Learn Providence to talk with the staff responsible for delivering Mind in the Making to Providence. They talked about the profound impact the program has had on families, educators — and themselves. Galinsky captured their thoughts on this video.

We are grateful to all of the organizations that are making this important partnership with the Providence Public School Department possible: The U.S. Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation Fund; The Rhode Island Foundation; United Way of Rhode Island; the Anne E. Casey Foundation; The Campaign for Grade Level Reading; The A.M. Fund; The Bezos Family Foundation; and the Hasbro Children’s Fund.

What participants are saying

“This workshop is absolutely the best training I have attended! It has impacted my professional and personal life. The life skills are essential to all interactions… I love that parents will have the opportunity to experience this training and its valuable information.” —Providence teacher

“This course has taught us so many positive things to put into practice in our homes and in our community. I will practice at home with my granddaughter and all the children who need my attention.” — Providence grandparent

“The facilitators had knowledge of the subject. We stayed focused.” — Providence parent

“I learned about perspective, and to be more patient with my children to help them have the focus and self-control that they need to be successful in life.” — Providence parent

“The information shared is essential for teaching children at young ages. Too many times we are focused on curriculum without focusing on the development of the child.” — Providence teacher