An Independent K-12 school on a beautiful wooded campus, 3 miles from Washington, D.C.

Potomac News

Understanding the Whole-Brain Child

Even though I had already read Tina Payne Bryson’s book, The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind, from cover to cover, I found myself feverishly taking notes during her presentation to faculty last Wednesday. Here’s what resonated with me: We must chase the “why.” If our students aren’t doing well, we have to ask why. How do we expand their capacity to access learning and make decisions that will lead to their success?

The metaphor of building a staircase between the upstairs and downstairs brain made such sense to me. I had a conversation with a student on Friday who had not made a wise choice. Luckily, I caught myself before blurting out, “What were you thinking when you did that?” Dr. Bryson’s words reminded me that children know when they’ve made a poor decision. Instead, we must acknowledge that they know what they did was wrong and ask them, “What is your plan moving forward?”

On a lighter note, how fun was the visit by dance masters Peter and Mary Alice Amidon last week? This was a rich experience for our children and for us! I found myself getting winded after a series of deep squats (followed by speed-skipping) in the Noble Duke of York dance with third grade. I also admit that I had a teeny bit of fun “swimming” around the music room with kindergartners and then pretending to sleep on the bottom of the sea. Finally, the image of students and teachers “shuck, shuck, shucking the corn” at Friday’s assembly is forever etched in my brain.