Dr. Kat's List: Five Colleges for Future Leaders
Compiled by Katherine Cohen, Ph.D., CEO & Founder and the team of counselors at IvyWise and ApplyWise.com
The election results are in and whether or not your preferred candidate won the race, it's easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of campaigns and politics. Students can discover or pursue their political interests in college by taking political science courses, government courses, and volunteering on local politicians' campaigns. Political science is one of the 10 most popular majors in the US
, according to Careerbuilder.com. Although political science is a popular major, many schools do not have what might seem to be its obvious counterpart, government, as a major offering. If you are looking to head to your state's capital or even the White House, government may be the path for you. A major in government will provide you with an understanding of how the US government functions, and it will also shed light on the world's political systems, providing you with a global perspective. Course listings might include Public Policy
, Democracy and Dictatorship
, and Political Parties
If being able to affect policy and international affairs are goals of yours, Dr. Kat and the Ivywise counselors have compiled this list of five schools to consider if you're thinking of majoring in government:
Claremont McKenna College
Originally founded as Claremont Men's College in 1946, this private college changed its name to Claremont McKenna College (CMC) and became co-educational in 1976. Though government is one of the top seven majors at the school, students benefit from having an engineering and science school nearby, Harvey Mudd, and three liberal arts schools, Scripps, Pomona, and Pitzer. Being part of the Claremont College system means students from each school have the opportunity to enroll in classes at all five institutions. Not to mention the use of all the libraries on the five campuses, and access to knowledge of all the professors!
As government majors, students have access to the wide range of centers on campus. However, look no further than The Rose Institute of State and Local Government. As a public policy institute, it focuses on state and local government issues, specifically in Southern California. Or conduct research on critical issues in world affairs at The Keck Center for International and Strategic Studies. Or, perhaps you're looking to take your studies to Washington D.C. over the summer? There's an internship for that! The CMC Washington Program has been sending students to D.C. for summer internships for over three decades. Internships have included positions at the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs in the White House and the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee in Congress, among countless others.
As a government major you may start your concentration path with The American Presidency with Professor Andrew Busch. You'll investigate the domestic and international sources of power, which have led to the dominant position of the US presidency. Or, you may end up taking a class taught by Professor P. Edward Haley, Heroes, Villains, and Clowns. In it you'll examine the heroism, and clownishness associated with western politics and represented in literature, plays, and film.
Enrich your learning experience by joining one of the hundreds of student organizations on campus. Join the Claremont Colleges Debate Union. As the nation's largest college debating society, the CCDU competes nationally and internationally, with parliamentary debate style. The tournaments utilize team competition with a different topic for each individual debate. Follow in the footsteps of CCDU alumni who have gone on to become members of the US Department of State in the diplomatic and international educational missions. Others have gone on to serve as international environmental consultants for the United Nations!
Eight U.S. Presidents, including current commander-in-chief Barack Obama, attended Harvard Law School. The government program at this private university is popular — it is the second largest concentration at Harvard. This level of popularity provides government students with the advantage of more professors, graduate students, and visiting scholars than most departments at Harvard. This means you can find a faculty member who is an expert in just about anything! For example, Professor Jeffry Frieden specializes in the politics of international monetary and financial relations. Discuss Russian politics with Professor Timothy Colton, whose expertise is Russian and post-Soviet government and politics. Undergraduate government students can take classes on in-depth topics like Mexico: Problems and Prospects for Development and Democracy and The Politics of American Education.
Looking for something outside the classroom? Join Harvard's Model Congress (HMC), the nation's oldest government simulation club. Each year HMC's undergraduate students arrange a conference for high school students, where they learn about US government by assuming the roles of congressmen, senators, and other members of government. In these positions, Harvard students guide high school students to work through and solve proposed problems and issues. When it comes to government, Crimson students, named for the school's defining color and mascot, can become leaders. Consider this: President John F. Kennedy attended Harvard!
Princeton's concentration in public and international affairs through the Woodrow Wilson School (WWS) is the university's only selective major — this means you must apply to the program. Each graduating class is limited to 90 students (this year's freshman class is 1,313 students), making the competition fierce to join such alumnae as former U.S. Secretaries of State, Defense, and Treasury. The school provides students with centers and programs like the Center for the Study of Democratic Politics and the Research Program in Political Economy (RPPE), among many others. RPPE sponsors research workshops, conferences, and visits to Princeton by political economy scholars. Each junior in WWS enrolls in two policy seminars, one each semester, and can choose from approximately 20 seminars offered each year, like U.S. Nuclear Weapon Policies in the 21st Century, taught by Harold Feiveson. During the seminars, students work with a faculty member to propose solutions to current problems around the world. Each student then conducts ongoing research into an area related to the seminar concept topic. The majority of seminars are taught at Princeton, while a few are taught abroad in locations like Shanghai, China and Havana, Cuba!
Perhaps one of the most distinctive aspects of campus life at Princeton is the eating clubs. There are 10 eating clubs on campus, all co-ed, open to juniors and seniors only. The clubs act as dining halls and social centers for their members. Often, members invite professors to share a meal or host a discussion. Regardless of whether you join an eating club, there are many opportunities for faculty interaction. Perhaps you can attend a talk given by Princeton Professor Edward Felten. As a WWS faculty member, he researches computer security, privacy, and technology policy. Images of prominent government figures may be seen around campus or between the stacks at Firestone Library — James Madison and US Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan both attended Princeton, while Thomas Jefferson's papers reside at Firestone.
Georgetown sits on the doorstep of the nation's capital. As a student at this private university, you can learn from former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, among other national figures. As a Professor of Diplomacy at the School of Foreign Services, Albright offers a wealth of real-world knowledge to her students.
Georgetown prides itself on academically inspiring its community; this is illustrated by the school's American Government Speaker Series. The series has brought speakers like Cornell University's Professor Eric Oliver who specializes in urban politics and public opinion, and Georgetown's own Professor Michael Bailey whose talk was titled "The Constrained Court."
As a Georgetown student, you can get involved in On the Docket, the student Supreme Court society at Georgetown. According to their website, members "promote an understanding of the US constitutional legal system primarily through attendance at Supreme Court hearings and discussion of the history and merits of relevant cases currently before the Court." While exploring all of the programs and offerings at Georgetown, you are reassured to know you are walking, and perhaps even following, in the footsteps of Presidents Bill Clinton and Lyndon B. Johnson.
The College of William and Mary
This public college in historic Virginia follows a close second to Harvard for producing presidents — think Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and John Tyler. William and Mary (W&M) is the second oldest institution of higher education in the country and it founded the prominent Phi Beta Kappa honor society in 1776. The government program at W&M prides itself on small class size; most seminars enroll 15 students or fewer. The courses focus heavily on interaction, research, and writing. Students and faculty often work together on joint research projects and papers that lead to publication; check out their undergraduate research index for a list of examples!
Apply to the Sharpe Leadership Program to work with other students on developing your leadership, problem solving, public communications, and project planning skills. According to W&M, by "creating and implementing team-based service projects, first-year students learn how to catalyze, organize, and lead initiatives on campus and in the community." If you're looking for a forum to debate and discuss international relations, look no further than the International Relations Club, one of the largest student organizations at W&M.
Whether you aspire to a position in student government or on Capitol Hill, these five schools will prepare you for a future in government. However, don't limit yourself to just these schools! There are many other options. For example, Wellesley College, in Wellesley, Massachusetts, has political science programs where students can flex their government skills in the Madeline Korbel Albright Institute for Global Affairs. The Institute features a winter session intensive program that brings in speakers and lets students research and create their own projects. The Institute also includes a summer internship component (with a stipend!). During its inaugural year, 2010, Secretary Madeline Albright taught during the winter session program. Or check out Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. Ranked number six in the nation for liberal arts, as a government and legal studies major at Bowdoin you could follow in the footsteps of Franklin Pierce, America's 14th president and class of 1826. Enroll in Ending Civil Wars with Assistant Professor Shelley Deane who specializes in ethnic conflicts, peace processes, and Irish politics, among other topics!
While you're still in high school, try to get involved in your school's student government or explore options of taking on small roles in town government or administrative meetings. Attend school board meetings and speak up to start making a difference on the policies that will impact you and your fellow students directly. Join Model UN, a United Nations simulation club that organizes international student conferences. Starting a club or becoming the President of a student organization can also help you hone your leadership skills in preparation for a government major, while indicating your governance interests to admissions readers. So, go forth and lead!
Copyright IvyWise, LLC ©2010
Compiled by Katherine Cohen, Ph.D., CEO & Founder and the team of counselors at IvyWise and ApplyWise.com
Juniors, you may have just started to dig deeper into colleges to which you are applying. You should be exploring schools on your preliminary list through campus visits, on-line research, and speaking with students and alumni. It's not only important to find a good fit socially but also academically; you should make sure the schools you're looking at have your possible major (or majors). If you're undecided, that's okay! You may not have been exposed to an area that suits you, or perhaps your interests cross multiple fields. The counselors at IvyWise and I have put together a list of unique or nontraditional majors that are growing in popularity.
Cognitive science is a true interdisciplinary field, spanning linguistics, philosophy, computer science, psychology, neuroscience, and the social sciences. As the University of California, Berkeley explains, the goal of the discipline is to understand "the nature of the mind." Cognitive science students work with artificial intelligence, using their research to reverse-engineer human thought processes in order to build better machines. Undergraduate students at the University of California, San Diego can take part in research that examines how we memorize our environments, in what ways cell phones are distracting, how we perceive body movements, and many other things. Undergrad researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY conduct research on Cognitive Robots and Human and Machine Reasoning. In addition to working on their practical applications, cognitive science majors focus on developing theories of thinking and cognition.
This new major emerged in schools across the country in response to students' interest in implementing sustainable practices in disciplines as diverse as architecture, chemical engineering, and accounting. Arizona State University created the first School of Sustainability, and other schools around the country have developed their own programs of study (see our article in the April 2010 newsletter for more on schools with a focus on sustainability). Interested in helping with the oil cleanup in the U.S. Gulf? Forbes lists Marine Biodiversity and Conservation as a "hot job" for recent grads. The emergence of websites such as http://www.greenjobs.com and http://www.greenjobs.net is a testament to the growing demand for employees who are versed in the practices of environmental sustainability. Forbes encourages students to "become fluent in the language of 'green' to make yourself more attractive in any field."
International Studies and Relations
This major is a great option for students who want to travel the globe and pursue careers in politics, public policy, diplomacy, education, or other related fields. International studies takes into account our world's growing ethnic, cultural, and political awareness and focuses on developing communication skills, intercultural understanding, and foreign politics. Want to see this major in practice? Check out Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, which offers a cooperative education program (co-op) in which students have the opportunity to live and work abroad at selected institutions, including non-governmental organizations, corporations, and international agencies. Similarly, Johns Hopkins University offers a special accelerated International Studies BA/MA, through the university's Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), located in Washington, D.C. If you want to flex your Portuguese language skills or expand your knowledge of Chinese politics, this may be the major for you.
Music Business is a recently established major that allows students to combine their musical interest with a career in business. Students develop their creativity while learning the skills they need to succeed in the business world. Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, offers a Music Business/Management (MB/M) program that highlights the "skills, concepts, and methodologies necessary to manage the legal, financial, artistic, and ethical issues that face the contemporary music business professional." While students can take courses in their instrument of choice, Berklee MB/M majors can also take Music Publishing or opt for a class on Concert Promotion and Venue Management. If you have a passion for music and want combine it with your interest in business, this major could lead to your ideal career.
This cutting-edge field only recently became available for undergraduates. The demanding field of biotechnology is a subset of biology that involves using live organisms to solve problems in areas such as engineering and medicine. Biotechnology is responsible for creating advancements in medicine such as fertilizer, acetone, and penicillin, among many other things. With a major in biotechnology, you can specialize in any one of a number of sectors, such as health, agriculture, and environmental sustainability. At Rutgers University in New Jersey, biotechnology majors take courses in Molecular Genetics and Methods in Recombinant DNA Technology, which teach students about techniques used in molecular biology. According to MSN and CareerBuilder.com, the fastest growing job from 2008-2018 will be biomedical engineering.
The School of Public Health (SPH) at the University of North Carolina has been educating students in public health for over 70 years, and in recent years has experienced an increase in popularity. Last year students at SPH represented nearly half of the undergraduate freshmen class at UNC (45%). Public health is interdisciplinary by nature and incorporates elements of policy, science, medicine, and psychology. Public health students learn how government actions, education, access to healthcare, and funding factor into the spread, treatment, and prevention of disease. Students who major in public health can go on to earn a graduate degree in areas including global health, epidemiology, biostatistics, and nutrition. According to Forbes, Health Information Technology is a "hot job" for recent college graduates and is expected to remain in high demand. Similarly, careers that relate to health, such as health law, geriatric healthcare, nutritional advising or pharmaceutical testing, are also quickly expanding. If you're interested in health, but don't necessarily want to go to medical school, then studying public health is a great avenue to consider.
As technology advances, theories change, and therefore the demand for certain professions fluctuates, colleges and universities strive to stay abreast of current needs. Majors constantly evolve so that students can be educated in a way that prepares them for ever-changing global demands. It is important to thoroughly examine course catalogs, college websites, and consider your own interests and values to find a school that will help you meet your academic goals. For a quick overview of majors and their descriptions, check out CollegeBoard.com.
Copyright IvyWise, LLC ©2010
Karen Reivich, Ph.D.
How do you respond when your child comes to you with a problem and wants to talk about it? You probably stop what you are doing, pull up a chair and listen attentively. You're likely engaged, ask questions, and offer advice. Now think about how you respond when your child comes to you with good news to share. You likely listen as you continue to prepare the meal, answer emails, play with your baby, or whatever else you were doing as you listen. Then you may say something like, "That's great, Sweetie! I'm happy for you!"
Your authentic interest in your children's concerns and problems helps them feel understood. They learn that you will be there when things go wrong. However, if you tend to respond more passively and distractedly when your children share everyday good news (a good grade in school, a cool bug in the grass, the amazing new peanut butter and catsup cookie he or she just invented), they might wonder: "Will you be there for me when things go right?"
In fact, "Will you be there for me when things go right" describes a new psychological study about the way we respond when people share good news with us.* The research shows that when people actively respond to another's good news (e.g., asking questions, sharing their enthusiasm, being engaged and focused, helping the other person to relive and savor the positive experience), both feel happier, closer, more trusting of each other, and generally more positive about the relationship.
To put it another way, when your child, spouse, or friend brings you news of joy, you can be a Joy Multiplier simply by taking a few moments to stop and be fully present with the other person. On the flip side, when someone you care about brings you news of joy and you don't give authentic interest, you are depriving yourselves of an opportunity to strengthen the bond you share. You are unintentionally being a Joy Thief!
Think about the following questions:
- When are you a Joy Multiplier? (e.g., What times of day? With whom? With what kinds of good news?)
- When are you a Joy Thief (e.g., What times of day? With whom? With what kinds of good news?)
- What can you say to yourself to help you to be a Joy Multiplier more often? For me, just remembering the question, "Will you be there for me when things go right?" helps me to stay active and constructive.
You can teach your children to be Joy Multipliers by modeling an active constructive style of responding to their good news. Active means to be engaged in the conversation – not distracted and not multi-tasking while you talk. Being constructive means being positive and helping to build the positive emotion. The trick to being a Joy Multiplier is to ask questions that help your child savor the positive experience while sharing in their positive emotion. Here are some examples of what a Joy Multiplier versus a Joy Thief might say to a child’s good news.
Child: Mom, I found the coolest looking bug in the yard!
- Joy Thief: Ugh. I hate bugs. Please take that back outside!
- Joy Multiplier: Wow! That is pretty cool looking! Where did you find it? What do you think it eats? I’ve never seen so many legs on a creature
Child: I just made a great new cookie! I took a chocolate chip cookie and covered it with peanut butter and squirted ketchup on top! It tastes great!
- Joy Thief: That's nice, sweetie. Now go wash up for dinner...
- Joy Multiplier: Wow, how creative! What did it taste like? What are you going to name your new cookie?
When you hear your child respond to a friend or sibling by being a Joy Thief, encourage your child to ask a question or two about the other person’s experience. You might even say, “Let’s see if we can help your sister really enjoy her good news! What could you say or ask her that will help her to get every last drop of happiness out of that experience?” Remember, the more you practice being a Joy Multiplier, the easier it will be for you to stay in this mode with your children, spouse, and friends. And your good example will help your children learn this valuable relationship-strengthening tool that will benefit them their entire lives!
* Source: Gable, S. L., Gonzaga, G., & Strachman, A. (2006). Will you be there for me when things go right? Social Support for Positive Events. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91, 904-917.
Resilience: The Ingredient List
The Four R's
You've probably heard of the "3 Rs": Reading, Writing, Arithmetic-a focus of education. What about the fourth R-Resilience? Resilience is the ability to bounce back from setbacks, to learn from failure, to be motivated by challenges and to believe in your own abilities to deal with the stress and difficulties in life. What you might not know is that, just like reading, writing and arithmetic, resilience can be learned. Children can learn-from their parents, teachers, and coaches-how to develop the skills of resilience, and I believe the resilience skills are as important as the other 3 R's. Why? Because every child's life will be touched by setbacks as well as achievement, pain as well as joy, loss as well as triumph. In order for children to reach their fullest potential, they need to know how to approach life with resilience. Resilience enables your child to thrive no matter what life puts in his or her path.
The Seven Ingredients of Resilience
Resilience is not all or nothing. It comes in amounts. You can be a little resilient, a lot resilient; resilient in some situations but not others. And, no matter how resilient your child is today, you can help him or her become more resilient tomorrow. Research has identified a variety of important ingredients of resilience but there are seven that we can most easily teach our children.
1. Emotion Awareness and Control
One of the myths about resilience is that resilient people tough it out without expressing emotion. They keep it all inside and are stoic in the face of adversity. This view of resilience might be common, but it's not accurate. Resilient people-adults and children-are comfortable with their feelings and they express them. In fact, resilient children experience a broad array of emotions-happiness, joy, fear, sadness. They have a good understanding of their own emotions and they feel comfortable talking about what they are feeling with people they trust. So, when a resilient child goes through a tough time, she does feel sad or scared or anxious. After all, she is human! However, there is an important difference that distinguishes the more resilient from the less resilient. Resilient children don't get "stuck" in an emotion. Although they might feel sad or scared, these feelings don't prevent them from coping with the situation and moving forward. When an emotion is too strong, so strong that it interferes with the person's ability to cope, the resilient person knows how to control her emotions so that she is able to push forward with a plan of action.
2. Impulse Control
We all have impulses to do things and say things that aren't in our best interest or helpful or kind to others. Resilience doesn't require that you stop having these impulses, but it does require you to stop yourself from acting on every impulse you have. Resilient children have internalized the "stop and think" message and use it to make choices about their actions. The good news is that impulse control can be learned. So even if your child is impulsive, you can learn some simple strategies to teach him to handle situations better.
3. Realistic Optimism
Optimism is another key ingredient of resilience. The research on optimism is clear: optimistic people are happier, healthier, more productive, have better relationships, succeed more, are better problem solvers and are less likely to become depressed than pessimistic people. My colleagues and I have been studying optimism and resilience in school-aged children for over fifteen years. We have developed programs that teach children and adolescents critical optimism and resilience skills. Our research shows that kids can learn these skills and that optimism and resilience protect children against depression and anxiety. This is critical because at any one point in time as many as 10-19% of adolescents report moderate to high level symptoms of depression. Children and adolescents with high symptoms of depression are more likely than their peers to have academic difficulty, smoke cigarettes, abuse alcohol or other drugs and attempt suicide.
You notice, however, that I describe it as "realistic optimism." This is important. Resilience is not served by denying problems when they exist, believing that you never make mistakes, and blaming others whenever things go wrong. Resilience is about seeing yourself and situations as optimistically as you can-but within the bounds of reality. Realistic optimism keeps you shooting for the stars without losing sight of the ground below.
4. Flexible Thinking
Resilient children are flexible thinkers. They view problems from several different perspectives. When a resilient child has a fight with her best friend, she is able to view the situation from the friend's perspective as well as her own. When a resilient child doesn't do well on a test, he is able to come up with a variety of factors that might have lead to the poor outcome. Why does this matter? It matters because flexible thinking increases the likelihood that you'll be able to come up with solutions to the problem you're confronting. Flexible thinking means that you'll generate a number of different ways to handle the situation so, if your first solution doesn't work, you'll have a Plan B ready.
A basic ingredient in resilience is belief in one's self: self-confidence. Resilient children believe that they are effective in the world. They have learned what their strengths and weaknesses are, and they rely on their strengths to navigate the challenges in life. For one child this might mean using his sense of humor to deal with stress; for another child it might mean using her creativity to come up with new ways to handle problems. But don't confuse self-efficacy with self-esteem. Self-esteem is about feeling good about one's self and self-efficacy is about effecting change in the world. The road to resilience is through self-efficacy, not self-esteem. If your child is confident and knows how to master what life throws in his path, self-esteem will follow.
Resilient children are connected with others. In fact, some of the landmark studies in resilience show that children who have at least one enduring relationship with a caring adult (a parent, a neighbor, a teacher, a coach) do well and can overcome even the most difficult hardships. Empathy is an important component of strong social relationships. Children who care about others, are interested in other people's feelings and experiences and want to help others through tough times are more likely to have strong, healthy friendships. Empathy serves resilience by facilitating strong relationships. Children who have a strong network of friends and adults who care about them have a support system that they can turn to when they need help.
7. Reaching Out
Resilient children take risks. I don't mean hurling themselves off mountain tops or riding motorcycles without helmets. I mean appropriate, horizon expanding risks. Children who are resilient don't see failure as something to be avoided. They are willing to try new things because deep down they know that by trying new things and taking risks they will learn more, achieve more, and enjoy life more. The risk taking might take the form of signing up for a hard class or talking with someone they've never met before or even just trying a new food. Their optimism fuels them and their self-efficacy gives them the confidence to try, even when that means risking failure.
Your Resilience Cupboard
Take a moment and reflect on the Seven Ingredients of Resilience. Make a list of the ingredients you have in abundance (your resilience strengths) and make a list of the resilience ingredients you are low on (your resilience weaknesses). Do the same for your child. Remember, we can all become more resilient tomorrow than we are today. You don't need to have your cupboard overflowing with each of the seven ingredients. Challenge yourself to use your resilience strengths more fully and see if you can devote some energy to increasing one of the ingredients you are low on.
For some simple strategies to help your child be more resilient, check out our tool box for:
Gotlib, I.H., Lewinsohn, P.M., & Seely, J.R. (1995). Symptoms versus a diagnosis of depression: Differences in psychosocial functioning. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, //63,/ 90-100.
Reivich, K. J., Gillham, J. E., Chaplin, T. M., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2005), From helplessness to optimism: The role of resilience in treating and preventing depression in youth. In S. Goldstein & R. Brooks (Eds.), Handbook of Resilience in Children.
Reivich, K. and Shatte, A. (2003). The Resilience Factor: 7 keys to finding your inner strength and overcoming life's hurdles. New York: Broadway Books.
Karen Reivich, Ph.D.
Flow is the mental state in which you are fully immersed in an activity. Your focus is laser-like. You feel lost in the activity — fully absorbed in what you are doing. Time stands still. You are "in the zone." When in flow, people describe deep concentration, a sense of being in control, and that the activity itself is intrinsically rewarding. Flow is deeply satisfying and brings a feeling of joy.
Michelangelo likely felt flow when painting the Sistine Chapel. A quarterback probably feels flow when he is evading a sack or throwing a perfect spiral. I feel flow when I am teaching and writing. My son, Jacob (13), is in flow when he is doing drum performances. My daughter, Shayna (6), describes being in flow when we took a long bike ride through the mountains.
The tricky thing about flow is that you can't force it. It seems to just happen. There are, however, certain conditions that researchers point to that are critical for flow.
- You must have a clear goal in the activity. (Jacob wants to perform the drum solo without mistakes)
- The task must be challenging and require you to use your skills/talents fully. If the task is too simple, you will be bored. If the task is too difficult, you will be anxious. (The mountain path required Shayna to fully concentrate and use her skills but it was not so difficult that she would be unable to master the experience.)
- The task must give immediate feedback so that you know how you are doing and can adjust your behavior accordingly. (When Shayna's bike starts to tip too far to the left, she can adjust her balance.)
People find flow in a broad range of activities: playing music, doing sports, cooking, solving problems. When are you in flow? Think about the questions below to help build your awareness of the activities that bring you to a state of flow.
- When do you lose track of time?
- What activities do you engage in that require you to use your skills and talents to the max?
- What do you do that you find rewarding in and of itself?
- What goal have you set for yourself that you find deeply gratifying when you are working toward it?
Activity for Kids — Finding Your Flow
Flow is not something you can schedule or put on your To Do list. However, there are ways that you can help your child to enjoy the experience of flow. We can help our children experience flow by working with them to identify the activities that require them to use their strengths, skills, and talents to the max. Remember, flow comes when the challenge of a situation requires us to stretch and use our abilities fully. Too much challenge leads to anxiety and feeling overwhelmed; too little leads to boredom. So the goal is to create activities that require our children to engage fully. Complete this Finding Your Flow Chart with your child. Start by making a list of the activities that your child engages in regularly. For each activity, list the skills, talents, and strengths that he uses when doing the activity. Identify when the activity is too easy and leads to boredom; when the activity is too hard and leads to frustration or feeling overwhelmed; and then identify how to make the activity challenging enough that your child has to totally invest!
My son, Aaron (13), and I completed the chart below as an example.
Once the chart is completed, encourage your child to do some of the activities identified in the Finding Flow column. Leave empty rows on the chart, so that your child can add to it when he discovers a new activity in which he feels lost in time!
Finding Your Flow
|Activity||Skill/Talent/Strength||Too Easy (Boredom)||Too Hard (Overwhelming)||Finding Flow (Joy)
||Musical ability, creativity, perseverance
||Playing melody and rhythm at the same time
||Athletic ability, perseverance
||Right handed lay ups
||Playing against my cousin, Corey
||Playing with Jacob and Cody
|Making slide shows
||Creativity, artistic ability, story telling
||Only incorporating photos
||Trying to use too many effects and a new program at the same time
Adding text in creative ways and using new slide transitions