Teaching Character: Open Mindedness
At a parent’s night at my daughter’s preschool, a number of us were talking and the idea of a biography class came up. Biography not for writing books. Biography for looking at one’s own past. As in, arm chair psychology, kind of. Or crazy train. That, too.
This being California, a circle of us moms decided we’d all take this class together. Now, we don’t know each other more than, “hi” and “bye” in the mornings and afternoons. But we certainly are about to! I’m a little scared. I’m also a little excited.
Whatever comes up, I’ll have to have an open mind. And Kleenex.
Much like curiosity, open mindedness is a muscle that can be strengthened through use. It’s about about looking at things from many angles. It’s about reserving conclusions.
Open mindedness requires rationality as a filter, though. It’s not about being so open that the door swings wide for any old information to waltz in. That’s being gullible - believing with equal weight every and all bits of information you receive.
I won’t go into all the ways having an open mind will benefit your kid because there aren’t enough words to express that. Or mental bandwidth. All I’ll say is there never is only one way to do things.
A few fun ways to open the mind:
1. Travel. I read Design Mom‘s blog about traveling overseas with her 6 kids and that inspired me to take a walkabout with our 2. As we went from Germany to Spain to Italy to France, I was reminded about how narrow focused one can become. Luckily, our trip opened my mind a little bit further.
2. Learn a new language. Even if it’s English with your baby. I find it humbling to not know the words you want to use, to have to struggle to express yourself. So when you are with your kid - baby, even - let them take the language reigns. Don’t be so ready to correct. They’ll probably come up with words that you’ll want to remember for a lifetime. Some of my favorite new words: blanklet, pagima, pumpatin and when we lived in France, merci was mousy and fromage was moremage.
3. Read familiar books in a different language. Accidentally, we picked up Goodnight Moon in Spanish and it was a hoot to read. I donned my best Spanish accent and we giggled through all those new words. Silly, yes. But we understood it because of the previous 1007 readings (if you know what I mean).
4. Play strategy games: checkers, chess, word puzzles. Even if you can’t remember all the rules, you can Google them or make them up. Doesn’t matter.
5. Cook chicken and rice 5 different ways. Really this works with any ingredient, but bear with me. Plan roast chicken with white rice for Monday. Curried chicken with basmati rice on Tuesday. Wednesday you can try carnitas (Mexican pulled chicken) with yellow rice and beans. Thursday, how about Vietnamese Chicken Pho with rice noodles. And for Friday, Thai green curry with rice noodles. See - a whole week of chicken and rice and each night, a different experience.
6. There is an iPad app for open mindedness because of course there is. There is an app for everything! It’s about bending expectations, changing things up. I haven’t tried it, but I’m totally intrigued.
Lastly, the number one most influential act for teaching your child to have an open mind is having one. So…wanna join me in this biography class?!?
photo credit: familymwr