Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Parents: How Calling Your Kids "Smart" May Actually Hurt Them!

It feels good as a parent when someone praises your child and tells you, "What a smart child you have!" doesn't it?  What if I told you this kind of praise could actually have a negative effect on your child? As an educator,  I have been studying the work of Dr. Carol Dweck, a Stanford psychology professor who wrote the book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, published in 2006. Her work has been “going viral” so to speak, in the education community. Why would this be interesting to you as a parent? Because Dr. Dweck’s decades of research has shown that how we praise children can affect how they view themselves.  That how we respond to children plays a key role in motivation, achievement and can help foster the type of mindset they develop. In fact, her research suggests that an emphasis on intellect or talent can actually lead to a child’s fear of failure, feedback and challenges. In other words, some children may fear failing so much that they choose the easy way out, may not take an interest in personal growth and refuse to take on challenges, skills that may not lead to a productive adulthood. While her work centers around teachers and the classroom, as parents you are your child's primary teachers. After becoming more familiar with Dr. Dweck's research, I now think twice about calling a child "smart”.

Dr. Dweck’s work describes two types of mindsets, a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.  Praising a child’s intelligence, i.e. “You are so smart!” fosters a fixed mindset.  It suggests that one’s intellectual ability is inherent, that one only has a certain amount of intelligence and cannot change it. In a fixed mindset, mistakes are viewed as failures and that children may believe they are dumb and just do not have the talent to master a particular task. As a result, children may only seek activities that they are good at to reinforce and prove their intelligence, and avoid being challenged. The importance of learning or trying something new may become secondary.

On the opposite end is a growth mindset, the belief that intelligence can develop through education and effort. When we praise for effort, children believe they can get better at anything as long as they are persistent and dedicated. Dr. Dweck’s research shows that children with a growth mindset were more likely to persevere through setbacks, work harder, seek effective learning strategies and outperform those with a fixed mindset.  

What kind of mindset do you have? Take this online quiz.

In an article published last year, "Carol Dweck Revisits the 'Growth Mindset'", Dr. Dweck states that in general, people are a mix of the two mindsets, and that even though we may say we have a growth mindset, our actions can prove otherwise. Even now, I catch myself complimenting children on their talent and intellect.  It is a hard habit to break. In the article, Dr. Dweck states that since her original work was published, one of the most common misconceptions about a growth mindset was simply thinking it was all about praising and recognizing effort. Certainly effort is critical for student achievement, but it is not the only thing.  The article also states that children need more than just sheer effort to learn and improve.  They need to learn different strategies and hear praise about the process of how they got their results.

To change my thinking, I have to change my language.  Here are some examples of what you can say to foster a growth mindset in your child:

 “What did you learn today?” 
 “What mistake did you make that taught you something?"
 “What did you try hard at today?”
 “I like the way you tried all kinds of strategies on that math problem until you finally got it right.”
 “Everyone learns in a different way. Let’s keep trying to find the way that works for you.”
 “The point isn’t to get it all right now. The point is to grow your understanding step by step. What    can you do next?”
(Quotes from Mindset by Carol S. Dweck.)

Not only does the adult language have to change but also the child's. Look at the diagram below. When you hear your child say these things in the left column, get them to change their thinking to a growth mindset, the right column. Develop the belief that mistakes actually grow the brain and develop their intelligence.

With parents, teachers, and the child on the same page, developing a Growth Mindset should be promising. To learn more about Growth Mindset Parenting, read this article.

What do you think about developing a growth mindset in your child? Please leave me a comment below.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Everything Was Awesome at the LEGOLAND Hotel!

Timing was uncanny as a few days before enjoying a stay at the Legoland Hotel, I received news that I was selected as a 2016 Legoland Blogger! I am excited to be writing this post to share with you and look forward to sharing more LEGO news as the year progresses!

The LEGOLAND Hotel opened on April 5, 2013.  It took us almost three years to finally get to stay here!

One of the amazing features of the LEGOLAND Resort is the sheer amount of figurines and LEGO sculptures that are really true works of art!

Behind the reception desk in the lobby there is an entire wall created out of 6,000 LEGO Minifigures!

Hotel Rooms:
There are three themes to choose from when you book your stay at the LEGOLAND Hotel: Kingdom (Knights and Castles),  Adventure (a la Indiana Jones), and Pirate.  We stayed in an Adventure Themed room.
The kids have their own separate area made up of a bunk bed (with a pull out trundle bed underneath) and TV. This easily sleeps three!
The adults have a separate King-size bed and their own TV to enjoy.
Hot and cold complimentary beverages are included with your stay and a refrigerator is provided in the room. Along with free WIFI, these were nice touches.

Found on the first floor in the ice/vending area was a microwave.  We didn't notice one on our floor. This is great for extended stays and warming up food brought in.
Pool Area:
Most San Diego days are perfect for the pool. A lifeguard is always on duty and floating bricks are available to play with in the water. There is also an outdoor walk-up counter to order food from the Cafe.  Cabanas can also be rented. On select days, a swim-in movie is shown as a bonus feature!
Photo by Legoland Resort
Hotel Dining:
Brick's Family Restaurant is open as early as 7:00 am and serves breakfast until 10:30 am.  The breakfast buffet is included in your stay. It opens again for dinner from 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm. The front desk person told us it would be $60 for the dinner buffet for a family of two adults and two children. (We opted to dine at Ruby's Diner in the nearby Carlsbad Premium Outlets.)  Themed character meet and greets are part of the dining experience. At breakfast time a minstrel was wandering around playing music and a balloon lady made the wait entertaining for the kids.  The buffet has a dedicated section for kids.  Perfect for their height and helping themselves!

If you would like to dine at Bricks as a non-hotel guest, adults cost $16.95 and kids are $9.95.  This is an AYCE buffet, complete with omelette station, standard breakfast fare (pancakes, french toast, waffles, eggs, bacon, sausage),  biscuits and gravy, fresh fruit smoothies and parfaits, hot (oatmeal, grits) and cold cereals, an international station with smoked salmon, and a hot station that served sauteed veggies and mushrooms and much more.  All sorts of beverages are included as well.

Other options for dining at the hotel include Skyline Cafe, Mini's Lounge, and Room Service.

Early Ride Access:
As a hotel guest, exclusive early ride access to select rides and attractions are available to you for a half hour before the general public.  A valid admission ticket is required and kids are given a slap on wrist bracelet that indicates that they are hotel guests (and also serves as cool souvenir!).
Entertainment and Activities:
Each night there are interactive activities at the Castle Play area located in the hotel's main lobby.

The night we stayed, there were Hero Games at 6:00 pm, where the three floors were pitted against each other in friendly competitions. At 7:00 pm there was a LEGO Model building competition and at 8:00 pm, a Kids Pajama Party.

LEGOS are literally everywhere you look, right when you enter, in the Castle Play area and even in your room! You can use these to enter the Model competition.

With so much to do, the family can stay the whole day and night here at the hotel and be entertained without even going into the park!

LEGO Fun in the Hotel:
Once you check in, kids have the opportunity to explore the hotel via a scavenger hunt.  The answers to questions on the hunt provide the code to unlock the treasure waiting in the room.  This was a unique and memorable experience for my son! I loved seeing him work through the questions and unlock the treasure chest!

The elevator is another experience!

The LEGOLAND Hotel is a great place to immerse yourself in colorful, creative play. In an age where I find parents somewhat pressured to feel that they are not keeping up with the Joneses if their kids aren't in sports or martials arts or in music lessons, I find it refreshing that there's a place that actually promotes and welcomes unstructured play. I think that's why my son loves his LEGOs so much.

Staying at the LEGOLAND hotel is not cheap, but totally worth saving for. I made a reservation when rates were on sale.

Upcoming LEGO News
It was just recently announced this month that LEGOLAND was in the application approval process to build a second tower similar to their current hotel, 3 stories made up of 250 rooms/suites.  It is planned to be open by 2018 and themed rooms are yet undecided.  At its current hotel, a fourth theme, Friends Heartlake City, will be added to some rooms come April.

LEGO Movie 4D A New Adventure opens at LEGOLAND on February 6th, 2016.

NINJAGO The Ride is scheduled to open at LEGOLAND in Spring 2016.

Stay tuned for more LEGO blog posts from your new LEGOLAND Blogger!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Ocean to Table: A Pop Up Dinner Event at JRDN!

Recently, I attended a Pop Up Dinner Event at JRDN restaurant in the Tower23 Hotel located in Pacific Beach, San Diego.   I was invited as a guest of Chef DJ Tangalin, someone who I quickly became a fan of when I first dined at JRDN and experienced his amazing Chef's Whim Tasting menu. (See that blog post here.)

I have witnessed Chef DJ rise to become a notable culinary force here in San Diego just this past year.  During the holidays, he appeared on our local TV news station, FOX5News, and shared some Thanksgiving recipes with a Filipino twist.  I love that he embraces the Filipino culture and shares it so willingly in his food.

I was definitely not going to miss this Ocean to Table "Surf and Turf" collaboration with Pacific Shellfish and blocked out our calendar to attend with my hubby.  I SO wanted him to taste Chef DJ's food and meet the man himself!

This was the first of three events in JRDN's Feast with Friends series.  I enjoyed the evening getting reacquainted with my blogger friend, Karen, and also meeting new ones, some of whose fabulous photos I am using in this post!

We dined in the private room and table was so pretty, it set a festive mood.  Everyone was friendly and eager to start the evening as we would be eating family-style for the starters!
Photo by Carlos Walther-Meade of
Our starters included macarons. I thought it was interesting to start off with something sweet.  It was oh so good! Inside was a filling of cardamom, white chocolate and saffron.

The next amuse bouche was a smoked salmon crostini made with cream cheese, chives and lemon.

Then we enjoyed some buttermilk fried oysters with chipotle aioli and pickled tomatillo puree.

The first pairing of entrees consisted of a seabass tartare and beef heart tartare.  What I appreciated was that when the dishes came out, Chef took the time to explain the process of how the food was prepared.  He talked about how the beef heart was skillfully trimmed and soaked in milk to tenderize and remove any unpleasant odor. Not only was I entertained on this evening, but also educated!  Hands down, the seabass tartare was some of the best poke I have ever had! I would never order beef heart off a menu, but my clean plate made it known that I enjoyed it very much as well!

Next was one of my hubby's favorites of the night, Pig Ear Salad, with pan roasted scallops, frisee salad, lime vinaigrette, and pickled fresno chili.  The beauty of the dish was incredible, and the crunchy crack of the pig ears was like the best crispy lechon skin fireworks going off in your mouth!
This next dish was tuna carpaccio with foie gras torchon, on a brioche bun with octopus. This was melt in your mouth and I wish I took a picture of the dissection so you could appreciate the multi-layer sophistication of this dish, but I must have been too busy eating every bite!
The night could have ended with this and I would've sung the praises of our Chef once more, but there were still TWO more courses!  Next was a Pacific Opah dish with a oxtail croquette (kare-kare anyone?), wine-braised onion, brussell sprout leaves, thyme roasted butternut, and celery root puree. Oh my goodness, this ate like a piece of meat, tenderly fleshy and full of flavor.
Photo by Carlos Walther-Meade
Dessert was a Pavlova dome with a fresh tropical fruits, pandan (coconut) sugar glass and lemon curd diplomat. Isn't the starfruit stunning? This reminded me of a cornucopia! It was so beautiful, truly art on a plate!
And like any great hosted party, we went home with goodies! A scone and a butterscotch muffin to enjoy later. What a thoughtful sweet note to end a wonderful evening!

Our tablemates all complimented the cuisine, service and hospitality of the evening. It really was top notch! This is a credit to the one steering the ship, and that is Chef DJ Tangalin. Remember his name as he's going places. Thanks Chef for the incredible dinner AGAIN.  Please don't miss out on the opportunity to experience the next two Pop Up Dinners at JRDN, coming up on February 10th and 22nd!

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