Wednesday, October 10, 2007

WILD Adventures in the Portland Area

My friend Ronan McCann has been working over the past eight months on launching an innovative non-profit called WILD Inc. (Wilderness Introductions for Learning and Development). The mission is getting city kids out into the wilderness, especially those who don't often have the opportunity. Check out this page to learn a bit more about WILDs goals and what had already been accomplished by the six-month mark—getting kids out in the wilderness, initial partnerships with Portland businesses and organizations, etc.

WILD's website is also a handy resource for Portland families. Practical Adventure Reviews of local hikes rate their difficulty level, provide a photo or two and tips for how you might want to be dressed and prepared. For those hikes that are close enough to bike to or ride Tri-Met to there are links that will take you to ByCycle or Tri-Met trip planning sites that work like MapQuest. There are also links to Google Maps for each of the hikes. The Tri-Met links are a nice touch for making it more practical for families that have transportation challenges to get their kids out to have an adventure once in a while not to mention for families that just like to leave the car behind when they can.

There is also an Adventure Map that has been set up through Google Maps so you can take a quick look at where the reviewed hikes are located. WILD's site really is nice if you find some time where you want to get in a weekend hike and you want to use the internet to plan a trip. Take a moment to bookmark it at and check out the features when you have some time or as soon as you get the urge to get the family out on a path. WILD will undoubtedly enrich the lives of all sorts of Portland families.

While We're At It: Praise that Doesn't Help

Since that sleep article of Po Bronson's was so good I checked out some more of his pieces. This previous one from New York Magazine on "How Not to Talk to Kids" is very solid as well. I have a lot more thoughts on what sort ways of talking to kids are helpful and which are counter productive that will show up on here eventually. But for now Bronson's piece nicely takes us through how our attempts to praise often end up getting in the way of our kids succeeding. For those of you who don't have time to read this now, I'll just say that it focuses on being specific and on praising effort rather than "being smart". There are measurable differences in the way kids respond to these ways of interacting with them. A focus on effort rather than on "innate intelligence" equips kids to keep at it when things get difficult. Kids who hear a focus on how "smart" they are rather on how hard they worked tend to give up when faced with a task that is challenging. This is even true of very intelligent kids. They are more apt to conclude that if they don't succeed right off the bat, it is evidence that they aren't all that smart, and it becomes too risky for them to persevere.

I recall an article from years ago that highlighted this difference between American and Japanese students. American students who ran into challenges were more likely to conclude they weren't smart enough, whereas Japanese students tended much more often to come to the conclusion that they needed to roll up their sleeves and work harder. And their tendency to move toward harder work translated into more academic success.

Photo by Phillip Toledano is from the New York Magazine article.

Monday, October 8, 2007

How to Help Kids Get The Sleep They Need

Both this side bar and the recent New York Magazine article are worth checking out. If your time is limited just take a look the sidebar for the practical tips on helping your kids to get enough quality sleep. If you've got some time to read the feature article by Po Bronson you can get the gist of some recent research that shows some of the more severe effects of kids getting too little sleep. It turns out that not only problem behaviors can result from being under rested, but even significant cognitive declines that really add up.

Thanks to Heather Decker for passing this article along.