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Grit & Growth: Edwin Binney, the Inventor of Crayola Crayons
Grit + Growth Mindset = Success Grit: [noun] Passion and perseverance in working towards a goal you care deeply about Growth Mindset: [noun] The belief that talent and skills can be developed through hard work Our new Grit and Growth series celebrates the accomplishments of amazing people, past and present, who can serve as role models for our students. Through their examples, we hope that our students gain the courage to pursue their passions with grit and explore their infinite potential with a growth mindset. Our first role model is Edwin Binney, the inventor of Crayola Crayons, who used both his grit and growth mindset to achieve and succeed! --- Who is Edwin Binney? Edwin Binney is an inventor and businessman who created many things that have to do with colors. He sold a black pigment used for shoe polishes and rubber tires. He created white chalk for teachers and a protective coat of paint called “barn red” that farmers loved. However, he’s most famous for creating the colorful Crayola Crayons that children still use today! How did he show grit? Part of being an inventor is experimentation. He was so passionate about his ideas that he tirelessly experimented with ingredients until he achieved the end results he wanted. When he decided to create slate pencils for school, he tested out various mixtures of materials, like cement and talc, until he made the first dustless white chalk! When he saw the need for affordable wax crayons without harmful chemicals for young children, he rolled up his sleeves and started again with new materials, producing his first box of crayons in 1903. How did he exhibit the growth mindset? He always knew that there was room for improvement. Whenever he hit a wall, he did not give up and think, “I guess I’m just not cut out for this. Might as well stop trying now!” He kept on going until he achieved what he wanted, getting back up every time he fell. He didn’t see his failures as limits to his inventive mind; rather, he knew that as long as he put in the time and effort, he would eventually see results. What can your child learn from his example? Like Edwin Binney, there’s always a solution to a problem you feel passionate about if you experiment and work hard without giving up. Failing over and over leads to success as long as you are failing purposefully. That’s why he engaged so thoroughly in the trial-and-error process. Similarly, another inventor and businessman, Thomas Edison, had to try many different tools to successfully complete the invention of the lightbulb. He said: “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” Like these inventors, you can allow yourself to keep failing in order to weed out what doesn’t work until you find what does! Recommended Reading: The Crayon Man: The True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons Written by Natascha Biebow / Illustrated by Steven Salerno
Must-have skill for children #19: Taking Breaks
“Hard work” brings to mind students at desks studying from morning to night, eating while completing their homework, and hopping from one schedule to the next. However, there is a key component of hard work that is often overlooked: good rest. You can’t have hard work without it, leading to the wise adage “work hard, play hard.” Only committing to the first half of that equation leads to burn out, which then leads to suffering productivity levels. However, only committing to the second half leads to an aimless lifestyle with no results. The focus is usually on how to study and use grit to do well in school; this time, let’s shift the focus to taking efficient breaks, which help students take care of themselves and work better when it’s time to dive back in. Here’s how your child can master the must-have skill of taking breaks! Schedule the Breaks Your child may create a schedule to maximize their time, so they do everything they need to do that day, such as homework and exercise, but does this schedule include breaks? Make sure these breaks actually happen by scheduling them purposefully throughout the day. For example, the time management method, the Pomodoro Technique, says to focus on a task for 25 minutes, and then have a break that lasts 5 minutes. After four of these “pomodoros,” your child can reward themselves with a longer break of 15 to 30 minutes. They don’t have to follow this technique exactly, but the idea is the same—have frequent short breaks with longer breaks at longer intervals. Let Go of Any Guilt In a world that’s always on go mode, it can be hard to stop and take a breather without feeling bad about all the things that could be done during that time. However, it’s ineffective to “take a break” by checking emails, organizing assignments, or cleaning the desk. It’s important your child completely signs off work mode when it’s time. This is the best way to refresh the mind so that it can work efficiently again when break’s up. Remind them to not think about what they still have left to do that day but to give themselves permission to completely live in the moment free of any responsibilities and guilt. Be Truly Present Your child should take meaningful breaks in order to get the most out of them, meaning they shouldn’t be endlessly scrolling on any online platform. Rather than distracting themselves with mindless activities that give no joy, they should be engaging mindfully in whatever makes them happy and relaxed, even if that’s doing absolutely nothing at all, like taking a nap or staring out a window. The more they are truly present in the moment the more they can enjoy the break fully and recuperate from the hard work they’ve been putting in thus far. Move Your Body Break time is the perfect time to get up and move your body around. The average person spends six to eight of their waking hours sitting down. When your child is finally able to push themselves away from the desk, they should also make sure to get out of their seat. They should be even more active if possible, either taking walks or doing light exercises and stretches to get their circulation flowing. This would also be an excellent time to rest or relieve the eyes from staring at a digital screen or small blocks of texts for long periods of time. Switch Up Your Surroundings It would be helpful not only to take a walk or do some stretches but also to change up the environment—particularly by going outside for some fresh air, if possible. Nature is known to have healing properties and a very relaxing effect on people; it’s certain to relieve any stress or negative emotions your child may be experiencing. If going outside is difficult, even entering another room would help. This will wake up your child’s mind, very much like pressing the refresh button on a browser page, as being in the same environment for long periods of time can dull the senses. — Taking breaks is an important life skill that every child should have. If you want them to relieve any stress and build strong study habits that will benefit them in the long run, make sure you include the must-have skill of taking breaks in your child’s daily routine! Need help with your child’s study habits and feelings toward learning in general? Then enroll your child at a JEI Learning Center near you today! You can also contact us at 877-JEI-MATH to speak with an expert on children’s supplementary education.
Must-Have Skill for Children #18: Giving Advice
Children often find themselves only on the receiving end of lessons, instruction, and advice. While this is great because it shows that there is always more to learn, they also need reminders that they have already learned and grown a lot. It’s important they are able to reflect and see their progress, so they can recognize what’s working for them. Flipping the switch and putting children in the role of mentors, teachers, and role models can do a world of good for them. That’s why giving advice is our Must-Have Skill for Children this month! Here’s what you can expect to see in your child with this practice. Confidence Boost Researcher Lauren Eskreis-Winkler is leading the research into how giving advice can help children with their confidence, motivation, and results. What she noticed is that becoming the person who gives advice results in a boost in confidence: “The notion that suddenly you’re put in a position where someone asks if you have useful information and presumes that you do, that could raise your confidence. The act of giving advice forces you to focus on the things that you already know how to do versus things you don’t, the things that are in your control versus the things that aren’t.” Children may feel disheartened about how “little” they know, so it’s good to remind them also of how “much” they know and what they have learned throughout the process. Asking them for advice or putting them in a position in which they give others advice will boost their confidence and trust in their abilities. More Motivation to Improve The boost in confidence, in turn, motivates children to keep going and improving. Eskreis-Winkler said, “[People] overwhelmingly said that they were more motivated by giving advice than by receiving advice.” Seeing how far they have come allows them to project that perspective into the future, so they can see how much further they can still go. Eskreis-Winkler also noticed that many children already knew what to do—it was a matter of being motivated enough to implement their know-how. Luckily, giving others advice sparks the “saying-is-believing effect” in which the advice giver is more likely to follow and adhere to their own advice after offering it to someone else. Additionally, being in the position of giving advice shows children what has worked and what hasn’t; they get a better sense of how to learn better, which motivates them to put these new ideas to the test. Higher Achievement Levels Adding confidence and motivation is a formula that leads to better results no matter what. In Eskreis-Winkler’s research, high schoolers who were asked to give advice saw an increase in their achievement levels as compared to high schoolers in the control group. Their grades from before and after the intervention were compared. The results showed that they improved enough to start a positive snowball effect. The research team asked students in what class they were most motivated to improve, and that subject was math. She noted: “Math is a subject that’s notoriously difficult to change student achievement and a subject in which many students lack confidence. We thought this advice-giving intervention would be effective in math, and we did find that the students’ target grades and their math grades improved relative to students in the control condition.” — Giving advice to others is an eye-opening experience that will benefit your child in many different ways. In particular, if your child seems disheartened or unsure of themselves, help them by putting them in positions, so they can give advice to others. The more they do this, the more they can perfect this must-have skill—but there’s a right way to go about giving advice. Some tips include seeing the problem from the other person’s perspective, listening attentively, and only giving advice when asked or appropriate. For more ways to boost your child’s confidence and motivation, so they see better results in every area of their life, and enliven their educational experience! Here at JEI, we believe every child can have a better life through better education, so we have meticulously fine-tuned a system that works for every individual, regardless of their learning style or speed. Enroll with a center near you today so your child can take a diagnostic test and start becoming the best that they can be!