Monday, November 16, 2015

Achieving Happiness Through Practical Metacognition

by Marcus Conyers and Donna Wilson

Are we able to influence our level of happiness? There is evidence to suggest that we can. By using the principle of practical metacognition, each of us has the ability to achieve a happier state of being and make our lives significantly better in the process.

Marcus created the concept of practical metacognition for our recently published book, Positively Smarter: Science and Strategies for Increasing Happiness, Achievement, and Well-Being, available from Wiley. In conjunction with that premise, we refute the notion that people’s outlooks and attitudes are largely fixed and unchangeable.

In truth, an individual with a pessimistic or optimistic outlook is not born that way. As we explain in the book, our genetic makeup, family background and life experiences are only partially responsible for our outlook on life and our ability to experience and sustain joy.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Encouraging a Print-Rich Environment

Letters, letters everywhere. One of the best ways to encourage the emerging literacy of young pre-readers is to surround them with the letters of the alphabet. At home, put magnetic letters on the refrigerator. Buy puzzles and toys with letter-based themes. Have plenty of storybooks in the home that encourage recitation and recognition of letters and words.

As we explain in our book, Flourishing in the First Five Years: Connecting Implications from Mind, Brain, and Education Research to the Development of Young Children, classrooms are particularly great places to post the letters of the alphabet, both upper- and lowercase, with corresponding pictures. Teachers can reinforce these connections with regular group recitations (“A” is for “Apple,” “B” is for “Banana,” “C” is “Cat,” etc.). There are opportunities all around the room to place different forms of print—labeling various items by their name—i.e., table, chair, toy box—and labeling children’s cubbies with their names.

Teachers also can display wall stories, labeled murals, and word displays. Children in classrooms such as these spontaneously use almost twice as much print in their play as those not exposed to a print-rich environment. Print environments are effective in encouraging reading as well as the earliest stages of writing.