Habits of Mind: Enhancing Your Child's Education

When it comes to learning, there is a lot more to know than what is found in books or on the internet. In fact, intelligence is now measured in more ways than simple IQ tests. Recently, educators have started looking at how the sixteen "habits of mind" identified by educators Art Costa and Bena Kallick can be used to help students gain the skills necessary for successful lifelong learning. Parents, too, are beginning to see the benefit of encouraging these qualities at home. By embracing these concepts, students can be challenged in new ways and to new heights.

These habits of mind have been found in peak performers and successful people in all walks of life. Although a list of the habits such as that found below is only a jumping off point, you can readily find many resources and information about habits of mind online. A brief description, however, can help you begin to consider how these might add further enhancement to your child's education.

Successful people don't give up. When faced with a problem, they analyze, strategize, and systematically persist.

Managing impulsivity
It is important to approach problems with deliberate patience. Clear goals are kept in mind, and alternative solutions are weighed.

Listening with understanding and empathy
Good listeners understand alternate points of view and pick up on body language and emotional cues. They are able to evaluate their ideas in relation to those of others, and when appropriate, to incorporate the ideas of others and expand upon them, thereby deepening their own understanding.

Thinking flexibly
Flexible thinkers adjust their thinking based on new information or experiences. They can tolerate confusion and use intuition to find new ways to solve problems.

Thinking about thinking (metacognition)
Successful people are able to develop a mental map of a project, keep the plan in mind while working, and then reflect on its effectiveness.

Striving for accuracy
The attitude of the craftsman or artist is to pursue complete mastery of the highest standards, often coupled with a laser-like focus, and the desire to continually perfect one's craft. They take pride in their work and strive for excellence.

Questioning and posing problems
Questioners know that identifying the problem is the first vital step to solving it. This helps them see the connections and relationships because the question/problem will be different when viewed from different angles.

Applying past knowledge to new situations
Peak performers learn from experience. They find connections and relationships to previous events that help define the nature of the new task and enable them to develop an effective approach.

Thinking and communicating with clarity and precision
Good communicators are able to translate intuitive or experiential knowledge into language that helps clarify and solidify ideas and learning. They are able to eloquently support statements or illuminate concepts with examples, evidence, and comparisons.

Gathering data through all senses
Sensory learners create more neural pathways, which leads to a deeper, more complex understanding. Being alert and open to all sensory clues ensures the incoming information is as rich and complete as possible.

Creating, imagining, and innovating
Innovative thinkers develop the capacity of original thought. They see challenges as opportunities to exercise creativity.

Responding with wonderment and awe
People who have a passion for their work delight in the unknown and are eager to immerse themselves in it. They are curious about the world around them, and show enthusiasm and joy in exploring it.

Taking responsible risks
Risk-takers have a desire to explore beyond the limits. They are not willing to settle for the status quo. Setbacks are intriguing and motivating, and they meet new challenges head-on without worrying about the risk of failure.

Finding humor
People who can laugh at the unexpected understand the positive effects of humor. They have a playful attitude, and are able to see things from a novel perspective.

Thinking interdependently
Cooperative people share ideas and energy for the good of all. They understand that by acting together people are more able and effective. They are willing and open to the ideas of others and enjoy bouncing ideas off others and getting input.

Remaining open to continuous learning
Life-long learners are always looking for ways to improve. They are eager to learn, and show constant inquisitiveness. They embrace the notion that there is always more to know.