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Strengths-Based Learning: Literacy Labs

Our biggest challenges are often our biggest opportunities. Regardless of the objective or the skills we need to acquire, there are infinite paths to getting there because every person has a unique learning profile.

How we view ourselves, our experiences, and emergent abilities determines much of our relationship to learning itself. Mindset has become a buzzword and for good reason.

Every person deserves to be nurtured through the lens of their strengths rather than their defecits.

We usually associate literacy with reading and writing, which of course are foundational skills to success, but true literacy goes much deeper than language.

Literacy takes many forms and extends to a series of skills based in awareness: both of self (emotional and conceptual fluency) and interpersonal awareness.

The learning process, like our brains, is an interconnected system that is constantly shifting and building new connections. Learning is not an isolated event.

Our relationships and awareness of our thoughts and emotions are integral to cognitive development. In fact, for early learners (pre K-2nd grade) increased social-emotional skills are proven to provide a foundational skillset for stronger reading and writing skills in later years.

Over the past 11+ years of working with students in a variety of domains (academic, behavioral, creative), something that continues to strike me is the difference with which some learners acquire different skillsets.

Some students seem to gravitate towards words, numbers or concepts in their early years. Many of these same learners, however, appear to struggle with making and developing friendships or reading social cues. Others clearly have innate creative genius, but might be challenged by reading and writing or interpersonal skillsets.

My point?

Growth is non-linear and interconnected, even amidst predetermined 'mile stones'. Yes, we must be mindful of helping our children reach important developmental milestones, but infancy to 15 is a time of immense neurological change. Humans by definition are creatures designed for adaptation. We must be given space to grow and integrate various domains in our own time.

By leveraging innate creativity and our human need for social connection, educators and parents can layer in various skills like "common core" academics emphasized in standardized testing without drilling or stressing, which only distances individuals from their unique learning process.

Early education is a time and space for exploration, connection and experimentation. We must encourage creativity and cultivate curiosity. By doing so we ensure that we not only find natural in-roads to building literacy, but that we are raising whole individuals.

No child should reach high school without having been introduced to the principles of a growth mindset. Every person deserves to be nurtured through the lens of their strengths rather than their defecits. All children deserve and require the time and space to incubate their unique interests and to develop skills in the time frame that suits their unique learning profile.

Literacy Labs are designed with this intention: to give twice exceptional learners the opportunity to experiment, explore, unearth interests and create connections that allow language (both written and spoken) to become a relevant tool that grows as they do.

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