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February 22, 2017

Creating Magic with Mind in the Making

Editor’s Note: In this series, Mind in the Making facilitators share their experiences guiding workshops for parents, educators, caregivers and healthcare professionals throughout the Suncoast. In May 2016, The Patterson Foundation funded training for 31 people through the Mind in the Making Facilitator Institute, which breaks down executive functions into seven essential life skills that help children achieve their goals.

Last fall, a diverse group of sixteen individuals came together to embark on a journey to learn how to help the children in their lives be successful. They met for six weeks to explore topics from Ellen Galinsky’s life changing book, Mind in the Making. In her book, Ellen Galinsky presents research on the seven essential life skills every child needs.

  • Focus and Self Control
  • Perspective Taking
  • Communicating
  • Making Connections
  • Critical Thinking
  • Taking On Changes
  • Self-Directed Engaged Learning

The topics are presented in ways that are accessible to parents and caregivers and provide practical strategies for increasing children’s skills in these areas.

This group, appropriately named Team Magic, was truly magical. One of the unique aspects of this group was that it crossed county lines and drew from different areas of both communities. The group, comprised of parents, grandparents, foster parents, early childhood educators, and professionals from various community agencies drew people from both Manatee and Sarasota counties. Everyone arrived a little apprehensive about not knowing what to expect, but they quickly engaged in thought-provoking discussions and fun activities and left commenting on newly formed friendships and the knowledge they gained. In the words of one of the participants, “Mind in the Making helped me learn from other people’s ideas and helped everyone become a community of learners.”



  • Children are born engaged in learning, but this engagement fades for far too many of our children.
  • Children are also born wired to understand different kinds of knowledge. For example, infants have a statistical-like capacity to pick out which sounds go together in their own language (a language sense) or to tell the difference between large and small numbers of things (a number sense). Children can also sense people’s intentions — the differences between people who are helpful and hurtful (a people sense).
  • While we may be aware of how important it is to build on these inborn capacities and teach children the information they need to know, it is also necessary for them to gain the essential skills for a lifetime of learning.
  • Each of the essentials skills takes place in the prefrontal cortex of the brain. These skills are as important as IQ to children’s success now and in the future.

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