A short while ago I had the pleasure of editing a book for parents, titled Becoming Brilliant: What Science Tells Us About Raising Successful Children. And, as of yesterday it is up for a PROSE Award! My editorial manager at APA Books, the publishing house of the American Psychological Association, asked me to write the copy for the award committee judges. No pressure, right?
As a parent myself, I like advice from other parents. But I haven’t read a lot of self help books on parenting since Harvey Karp’s book (and video) about swaddling: Happiest Baby on the Block. My babies—who, incidentally, did respond well to swaddling—are now 11 and 7. So the assignment to read and edit Roberta Golinkoff and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek’s manuscript came at the right time.
Advice From Scientist Parents
My school-age kids have different strengths and weaknesses. They are on two differing paths, but I’m hopeful both can be paths to success in life. Becoming Brilliant shows how parents (like me!) can support their children as they grow into the leaders and inventors of the future. The authors—two globe-trotting psychologists, moms, and longtime collaborators—were great to work with. And they were hilarious. They pushed back when they needed to, but they also generously made me part of their active give-and-take process when it came to structuring the “advice” content and making their research shine.
As the framework for the book, the authors fused decades’ worth of scientific findings on children’s brain development with input from business leaders who identified the key skills they want to see in their new hires.
With this unique data set they created a profile for success built around six major skills, called the Six Cs. The Cs are: Collaboration, Communication, Content, Critical Thinking, Creativity, and Confidence.
Nope, Your Baby Can’t Read (Yet)
In a funny but incisive way the authors explain why so-called educational toys that do 90% of the work aren’t helping your baby read. At all. Babies’ best preparation for reading is back-and-forth “talk” with their caregivers and siblings. Taking turns and making meaning with others builds the foundation for reading.
Golinkoff and Hirsh-Pasek also discuss why they’re disappointed with the new Common Core curriculum and state testing. Hint: Common Core all about content—not the other Cs. Thankfully, the book doesn’t end with critique. Each chapter ends with a section on how parents can apply what they’ve learned. Over the course of the book we learn how to use the Six Cs as a kind of dashboard-style report card to evaluate how well prepared our kids are for the complex World Out There.
While the Six Cs aren’t new, what is new is the authors’ empowering approach. Parents can teach the Six Cs. WE can teach our kids creativity, collaboration, and the other skills. In addition to highlighting schools and other places where Six C learning is happening today, the authors offer lots of concrete suggestions for how readers can take action in their own lives when the kids are out of school.
Read my blog interview with the authors here. I’ll check back in later if they win a PROSE award or Honorable Mention!