The More They Know: 10 Things to Teach Your Kids About Emotions, Learning and the Brain | Deborah Farmer Kris | 6 Min Read

“A boy at my table made fun of me during math today,” my second-grader told me one evening after bedtime. Worries tend to spill out after lights out.

“He said, ‘What?! You are still working on that packet? I finished that yesterday.’ ”

Swallowing my fierce first reaction, I said, “Oh, so how did you handle it?”

“I told him, ‘I like my learning pace. Your fast pace doesn’t work for me. I take my time.’ ”

I was stunned by her courage and her practical insight: speeding through the material is not the path to academic mastery.

In my work as an education journalist, I often take research about learning and the brain and translate it into usable chunks of information for parents and teachers. But this fall, I took on a personal challenge. Could I teach my 8-year-old about how the brain learns? And could this knowledge help her strengthen her academic confidence and agility?

One afternoon, I wrote out 10 insights I wanted to share with her this year — and that I hope to foster through my actions and attitude for years to come.

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Deborah Farmer Kris

A writer, teacher, parent, and child development expert, Deborah Farmer Kris writes regularly for PBS KIDS for Parents and NPR’s MindShift; her work has been featured several times in The Washington Post; and she is the author of the All the Time picture book series (coming out in 2022) focused on social-emotional growth. A popular speaker, Deborah has a B.A. in English, a B.S. in Education, and an M.Ed. in Counseling Psychology. Mostly, she loves finding and sharing nuggets of practical wisdom that can help kids and families thrive — including her own. You can follow her on Twitter @dfkris, contact her at [email protected], or visit her website: Parenthood365 (