Education consultant Kathleen Kryza discusses self-regulation with parents inside Justus Gage Elementary School’s gymnasium Wednesday night as part of the school’s annual Parent Fair. (Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)
Education consultant Kathleen Kryza discusses self-regulation with parents inside Justus Gage Elementary School’s gymnasium Wednesday night as part of the school’s annual Parent Fair. (Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)

Archived Story

Positivity in education improves learning

Published 11:24am Friday, February 28, 2014

While their children got the rare opportunity to play with arts and crafts in the classroom, Justus Gage Elementary parents were the ones receiving the lessons Wednesday night during the school’s annual Parent Fair.

The instructor for the evening was Kathleen Kryza, an educational consultant and motivational speaker. On the syllabus for the more than 50 guardians in attendance: learning to be a positive role model for their children’s education.

“You’re the best role models of all,” Kryza said. “As you change, your child will change as well.”

Kryza encouraged parents to learn to transform their thinking from a fixed mindset, a belief that only results matter, to a growth mindset, a belief that learning is what matters. To drive this point home, she and the other volunteers wore blue t-shirts that depicted the advantages of a brain that is focused on learning rather than simply achieving.

“We now know that intelligence can be developed through hard work,” Kryza said. “However you are born is not how you have to stay. So it’s important to say to your kids, ‘when you work hard, your brain gets stronger and smarter.’”

Kryza said the things parents say and do play a role in determining which mindset their child develops. She encouraged them to not say things like, “I can’t cook,” or “I’m no good at math,” as it establishes a belief that skills are innate, rather than acquired, in their children’s minds.

“We have to stop saying that people are natural talents,” Kryza said. “Research shows that people like Michael Jordan have put in 10,000 hours of practice to get where they are at.”

The educator also said that parents should take efforts to praise their children for working hard, not just for earning exceptional grades.

“The kids who have to work hard for Bs and Cs are often better off than the students who receive lazy As,” Kryza said.

Justus Gage has hosted the parent fair for years as part of their requirement to receive Title I funding, said event organizer Tennille Michalak. Both she and Jane Frontczak have planned the fair for the past two years.

“The event is all about parent involvement,” Michalak said. “It gets them involved with their kid’s school, and have some fun as well.”

During the speech, children were given activities to do by volunteers. At the end of the night, some prizes were given away to students and their families, including Kindle eReaders.

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