Indoor Outdoor Classroom

GRIT.

The buzz word in parenting these days is GRIT. According to pioneering psychologist Angela Duckworth, the secret to outstanding achievement is not talent but grit, a special blend of passion and perseverance. Research shows that you can actually grow your grit, but like any hero's journey, you'll have to overcome your own personal forms of resistance and face challenges every step of the way. So how do we foster grit in our kids? 

1. STAND BACK. If your child asks for help, give helpful and encouraging words instead of a helping hand. More than half the time, your child will figure it out.

2. FOCUS ON EFFORT... NOT SKILL. Our skill level at anything is determined by a mixture of talent and practice. If we aren't blessed with natural talent at something, we can apply focus, determination and practice to improve. Reinforce this growth mindset every chance you get whether your kid excels or falters. Praise all the focused practice that made winning possible or reflect on how to practice better to improve for next time.

3. CELEBRATE FAILURES. My favorite podcast right now is How I Built This with Guy Raz. Guy interviews successful entrepreneurs and every single one discusses their spectacular failures. Each of us has our own path and we don't always choose the right one the first time... or the second... or the twentieth... Once your kid internalizes that failing is the most efficient path to learning and that failing is part of the process, a glorious world of unexplored opportunities opens up.

4. NURTURE PASSIONS. When you do what you love, you spend every spare minute thinking about it, so there's a higher probability that you'll rise to the top organically. Take John Mackey for example. He loved being a grocer. His mother urged him to go back to college and pursue a different career path, but he stuck with his passion and founded Whole Foods Market. 

Running a project-based school and summer camp means that we spend a lot of time thinking about how to infuse grit and a growth mindset in the classroom. Here, mistakes never go on your permanent record. We celebrate mistakes because students are taking risks and challenging themselves and learning deeply. In our lesson plans, we focus on process over end product. Teachers support students in developing metacognition and learning how to approach problems rather than seeking a single right answer. The most important thing we do at Hudson Lab School is to celebrate our students' unique strengths and passions. By focusing on our strengths rather than our weaknesses, we afford ourselves the opportunity to harness our potential. 

PLAY

Hudson Lab School is proud to be part of the growing adventure playground movement. Modeled after a junkyard, adventure playgrounds allow kids to teach themselves and control the content and direction of their play. The adults stand back.

I first learned about adventure playgrounds in an article entitled "The Overprotected Kid" in The Atlantic. As someone inspired by Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, the idea of a junkyard teeming with kids exploring the extreme edges of safety made me cringe. Overriding that feeling, however, was sadness for what our overprotected kids have lost: The thrill of being left alone to explore the world and lead their own messy adventures. 

Hudson Lab School’s adventure playground—known as our Wild Playspace—was made possible thanks to Bobby and Sandro who felled a leaning tree and John McCann-Doyle, a playworker from Governors Island’s play:ground who hung a fabric swing, buried stumps in the ground, and left a variety of fun and fanciful loose parts. Last term, our students added a tipi, a cafe kitchen, a book nook and a pallet swing that they designed and built themselves.

More than just the physical space, we give kids the time to play because play is serious business. Play is vital to a child’s development. It boosts cognition and concentration, and according to the World Economic Forum, play equips children “with the skills necessary to tackle humanity’s future, such as emotional intelligence, creativity and problem solving. To be a superhero is to lead; to host a teddy for tea is to organize; to build a fort is to innovate: to play is to learn.”

So every day in rain, shine, or snow, our kids head outside for a quick mindfulness meeting and an hour of play with our kind-hearted playworker Mo who trusts them, watches their progress and learning, and supports their play without intervening.

Which characteristics best describe your child?

A case for Project-Based Learning for every child

At Hudson Lab School, we've thought a lot about what kind of children would best be served by project-based learning. Is it the quick or slow learners who don't learn at the average class rate? Is it the visual learners, the auditory learners or the tactical learners? Or does project-based learning best suit athletes, artists or perfectionists?

Call us biased, but at Hudson Lab School, we believe that project-based learning optimizes learning for nearly every kind of child because students learn through their own interests. They learn how to take initiative and responsibility, build their confidence, solve problems, work in teams, communicate ideas, and manage themselves more effectively all through project-based learning.

See if you can identify characteristics of your own child below and learn how project-based learning directly benefits his or her learning.

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