We will not be holding groups November 11, 27, or 29.
Last week we had a headache inducing conversation about free will. The most popular opinion seemed to be that it's hard not to believe in free will in general, but we have all had experiences of feeling like we weren't always in complete control of our decisions. The next phase of this discussion is about how we take what believe about why we are here and what it all means, and figure out how to apply that to our every day lives. The discussion will be about articulating a set of principles that remind us of our values when it comes time to make decisions. A personal code.
What to talk about when you talk about voting
George Carlin joked that Americans get one more choice when they vote than the Soviet Russians, but this year when you vote, I would like to encourage you to bring your child to the polling place with you. Paradoxically, voting is both a solitary activity and one of the pro social things you can do.
When you take your kiddo to the polls, be sure to talk to him or her about why you've made the choice to vote when so many other people decide not to. As much as we talk about Democratic values, most children rarely have the opportunity to participate in the democratic process very often in their home or school settings.
At the self absorbed adolescent developmental stage, the idea of public service may be pretty foreign, but the appeal of having a voice in the big decisions will not be lost. This election there is even an amendment to the state constitution on the ballot, although it's admittedly not very exciting (something about absentee ballots).
This week begins my favorite segment of the curriculum cycle, "What is it all about?". The last portion of the curriculum focused on the "how" of thinking and feeling, and now we focus on the "why". Socrates said that "a life unexamined is a life unlived" and over the next few weeks we will be examining some of the philosophical "big questions". Starting to examine these questions is an important developmental milestone of adolescence, and whenever we do this I am always wonderfully surprised by the depth and breadth of the kids curiosity and insight.
I am sensitive to the fact that each family has their own philosophical/spiritual underpinnings and this discussion is supported by facilitators in a way that creates a space for inquiry, but does not emphasize on way of thinking over another. The real lesson here is thoughtful and respectful discussion.
See you in group,
How is a habit different than a goal? What gets in the way of making and keeping new positive habits? This week in groups we are talking about habits, the small, actionable pieces of behavior change.
Good morning All,
I wanted to give an update since I have received so many thoughtful and kind emails of support. Gideon is coming home this evening after seven nights in the NICU at CCMC. We are relieved that he is healthy and happy and eating a ton.
I am looking forward to being back at groups starting Thursday evening. I have missed the kiddos and am excited to hear about what everyone has been thinking and doing since last week. Ramona, Hannah, Calvin, and Haley did an amazing job of keeping continuity while I was gone and I am extremely grateful for their hard work, intellect, empathy and humor.
See you tomorrow, or whenever your child has group.
One of the things we always encourage the kids in group to do in a lot of different ways is to "get big" during times of adversity. Getting big means to take a perspective beyond the immediate challenges that allows you to see the positive in a difficult situation. Sometimes a bad situation is a gateway to a new and unexpected opportunity, and most often it is nothing more than a chance to grow through life experience and develop a residual compassion for others.
This week I am in the CCMC neonatal intensive care unit with my newborn son, but in the moments where I'm able to get big I am grateful for the extended family that is Kids Cooperate.
Gideon is Here!
Aaron's son Gideon was born Wednesday evening. Aaron is taking a few days to be with his family so all individual sessions are on hold but groups will be held as usual with the rest of the team.
It's fall. The trees are losing their leaves. This is a good reminder that like all things in nature, human development is not linear.
The advances our children make in cognitive or social emotional development are easy to celebrate. It is difficult find the positive in the regression that is an inevitable part of the growth process.
Babies are born with "primitive reflexes". These innate and involuntary reflexes such as rooting for a nipple or grasping at a finger serve as survival instincts. Primitive reflexes are lost as specialized neurons gain functionality with progressive mylenation.
The reflexes that insure survival as an infant cease to be an advantage as a child gains autonomy. A great example is the Plantar Grasp Reflex. This reflex causes the Plantar tendon on the foot to contact when the bottom of an infants foot is stimulated but disappears around 12 months just as a child begins to walk, allowing the foot to remain flat for toddling.
Next time your child has a regression in some area of development, remember that like all things in nature some must be shed in order to make room for growth.
In 1996 Gary Kasparov, world chess champion, played Deep Blue, IBM's machine learning computer and defeated it handily. But the 1997 rematch is a lesson in both the power and fragility of confidence in human performance.
In game one Kasparov beat the computer again, but in game two of the six game series Deep Blue moved a rook in a way that Kasparov could not understand and he had a mini breakdown under the realization that Deep Blue's computational power so vastly out paced his own. He accused the IBM team of cheating and never one another game in the six game series.
Years later one of the IBM engineers would tell reporter Nate Silver that the mysterious rook move that threw Kasparov's confidence was a glitch in the system, and completely random.
Time Travel, Reflective Listening, and Vlad the Impaler.
What do these three things have in common? We talked about them in the high school social group this week. Conversation always meanders through pop psychology, science news, and personal anecdote. The common thread is that we listen, really listen to each other and offer support and encouragement.
We discussed the way in which reflective listening can be helpful for the listener (helps you to remember the important and relevant information) and to the listener (a chance to clarify misconceptions and feeling heard). The steps involved in reflective listening are :
1. Reflect back key phrases.
2. Identify emotion.
3. Don't try to problem solve.
Oh, we also discussed eating insects, the sustainable protein of the future.
Good morning All,
My wife is due in the next few weeks, and if she goes into labor close to group my facilitators are all set to take over and create great conversations and learning moments. Speaking of which....
Feeling at ease is better than feeling stressed. Right? It's something we can agree on. There is even a separate word for the positive excited kind of arousal in the body which is "eustress", so regular old stress is just universally bad.
Stress is bad for your health too.
- Forty-three percent of all adults suffer adverse health effects from stress.
- Seventy-five percent to 90% of all doctor's office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints.
- Stress can play a part in problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, skin conditions, asthma, arthritis, depression, and anxiety.
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) declared stress a hazard of the workplace. Stress costs American industry more than $300 billion annually.
- The lifetime prevalence of an emotional disorder is more than 50%, often due to chronic, untreated stress reactions.
So in the spirit of good mental hygiene, we are talking about stress and learning three ways to pull ourselves out of a stress tailspin.
1. Rate your stress. Not all problems are the same size and not all stress reactions are equal. Take a moment to step outside of yourself and compare your problem with the level of stress you are feeling. Do they match up? Look to the body for clues. We will be talking about the physical response to stress.
2. Focus on an object. Stress is nearly always a reaction to anxiety about the future or memories of the past. By focusing on a sensory experience that is immediate you bring yourself into the present. What dies the object feel like, smell like, look like?
3. Look around. Notice your context. Look at the faces and body language of the people around you. If you are the only one stressed out there is a good chance it is in your head, and that you are future or past focused. Loop back around to steps one and two.
Can't wait to hear the ideas the kids generate about what works for them!
You may have noticed that when you pick up your child from groups he or she is smiling and perhaps out of breath with a flushed face. This is from playing. "But what," you might ask, "does this have to do with social skills?" The answer is "everything". Play is a child's work. It is how they process and integrate new sensory, cognitive, and emotional experiences into the schemas that structure and understanding of the world around them. Play is an integral part of the Kids Cooperate process because it affords the opportunities for what we call " interventions in context ".
Play is a child's work. It is through imaginative play that children process and integrate the social and cultural information that they experience. The social learning that happens during play lays the foundation for social communication and emotional regulation skills that become important for getting and keeping a job, and maintaining close healthy relationships throughout life.
The imaginative games that children play equip them to read and intuit the feelings of others, laying the groundwork for the development of authentic empathy. For children on the autism spectrum, the ability to take the perspective of another is one of the most important challenges.
Cognitive development progresses through stages of grouping information, or schemas. As new information is encountered, it must be fit into an existing schema or a new schema can be developed. For example, the "cat" schema may include house cats, lions, and tigers, but when your child sees a weasel with catlike paws and whiskers, they must process and integrate that it does not fit into the "cat" category.
April is Autism Awareness Month, so it is worth mentioning that for children on the autism spectrum, imaginative and cooperative play may not come naturally. Adults can scaffold play by including neuro-typical children, interactive manipulatives, a well organized environment, visual supports, and a consistent routine.
An example of how prosocial behavior is supported by cooperative play can be seen in a simple game of "hot and cold". One child must hide an object and then encourage the other child to locate it by encouraging them with "hot"as they get closer to discovering it and "cold" as they get further away. This interaction requires perspective taking (I know something my friend does not), social exchange (I offer verbal prompts which affect my friends movements), and central coherence or situational appropriateness (I can give hints but should not reveal the answer because it would ruin the game).
Children process their experiences through imaginative play. You can support your child's development by engaging them in make believe! Remember to let your child take the lead in setting up the scenario and be flexible about rapidly shifting rules and roles.
This week we are talking stories. The stories we tell ourselves without even realizing it that effect the way we see the world and color our interactions.Read More
Good morning All,
We encourage the kids to bring in ideas of games and activities that they will enjoy sharing with their group friends. We pride ourselves on incorporating those ideas and helping the kids to feel ownership of the curriculum. But the suggestion we get most often is the one we will never take. Why?
The most requested activity across all of the age groups is to use the playscape. I always say no, because by intentionally excluding that wonderful resource from our toolbox, something wonderful happens. Your children make playdates, with friends, on their own.
We have made a conscious decision to draw a metaphorical line across which the playground is outside of Kids Cooperate, which opens the opportunity for kids to easily and conveniently bridge their social interactions from Kids Cooperate to the outside world. One of the biggest challenges we face is helping the kids to take what they have learned during the highly scaffolded social interaction in groups and apply it to other contexts. When your child asks, "can I go to the playground with _____" that is exactly what they are doing.
I encourage you to build in a little extra time into your schedule when the weather is nice after your child gets out of group so that when they ask to play on the playground with a friend you can say yes. Take a minute to appreciate what an important mark of progress this represents!