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May 22, 2018

What to Do When Faced with a Challenge: Mind in the Making

A diverse group coming together for a common goal of helping children makes for an enriched evening of brainstorming and conversation. Team Marvel had a mixture of participants including early educators, parents, and grandparents.

I opened the dialogue by asking for examples of when we take on challenges.  I got a one word answer…life.

Taking on Challenges
It was perfect timing for this module. We were making the class up due to Hurricane Irma. One facilitator was missing due to illness, the ramp from the interstate was closed due to an accident, the meeting place was locked when we arrived, a mom couldn’t find care for her four children, and a teacher’s brother just had a stroke. Another example presented itself when a mom shared that earlier in the day while she was putting her child in a car seat, someone wanted to park next to her. The driver was angrily beeping their horn for her to shut her door and get out of the way.

She asked the opinion of the class, “What she should have done?”

As you can imagine, there were plenty of comments and a bit of debating.  Her safety, her responsibility to be role model for her child, her pride, her right to take her time, her need to stand up for herself, and many more opinions came into play.  As I observed, some participants changed their minds from their original stance, and some did not.  What everyone could agree on was that there are many options when taking on a challenge.  They also saw the value in pausing and not going into automatic, but rather activating their working memory and analyzing how to handle the situation to make a plan.

A Snippet from the Mind in the Making Workshop:
Think about a time you felt really stressed

  • What caused you to feel stressed?
  • How long did it take you to react?
  • How intense was your reaction?
  • What did you do to recover?

As adults, we have the capacity and the tools to analyze how we are handling a situation, and come up with a plan. Children are still learning these skills. Imagine how they are feeling when experiencing similar types of emotions, how upsetting it must be because they are still figuring out how to cope. Adults can help children learn to manage stress by creating supportive, trusting relationships, but protecting children from all stress is not productive. “A childhood that had no stress in it would not prepare you for adulthood.” – Megan Gunnar

Each Mind in the Making workshop provides participants the opportunity to reflect on their own experiences and practices, learn what researchers have discovered about how children (and adults) learn best, and discuss how to apply the knowledge. This program is an excellent way to improve communication, become a better role model, and demonstrate the essential life skills, so children can be ready to learn.

Mind in the Making is made possible by the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading with funding provided by The Patterson Foundation.


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