Author Interview: Parenting Playbook Universe by: Jen Lilienstein

Today on Out of Control Characters we're interviewing Jen Lilienstein. Her book, Parenting Playbook Universe, is a great guide to helping your child navigate school.

Jen completed her undergraduate senior thesis on Howard Gardner's theory of Multiple Intelligence and its effect on self-esteem, attendance rates and love of learning in 1994 and in the years prior to founding Kidzmet, she worked in the education industry in various capacities including brand and product management for JumpStart educational software and in marketing for a non-traditional post-secondary certification. Once she became a parent, she started seeing just how differently her kids learned than she did...and was reminded how critical it is that teachers and parents “get” how each unique student likes to learn in order for kids to become engaged, enthusiastic learners. She also started to realize how many parents didn’t know personality-based techniques and strategies that could help their kids learn how to learn better.
Ms. Lilienstein currently serves on the Editorial Board of the National Afterschool Association, the Publications and Platform Committees of the NAA, the Quality Committee of the CA Afterschool Network, and advocates for Afterschool for All with the Afterschool Alliance. She is also a member of BOOST and ASCD. Ms. Lilienstein is also a weekly contributor on the Total Education Network, which is syndicated on 80+ networks and heard by more than a million people in 180 countries around the world.
At home, Jen is Mom to an extraverted seven year-old daughter--who has already dabbled in music, swimming, gymnastics, ballet, nature, yoga and art--and an introverted four year-old son who loves to do puzzles, build with LEGOs, examine the lives of animals and insects, and admire anything with an engine.
A detailed, practical guide to help parents (and teachers!) understand how different personality types learn best. INCLUDES PERSONALITY QUIZ!
The techniques revealed in this book will teach parents specific, research-backed, actionable strategies amassed from nearly 100 reference texts with respect to:
* How to create a learning environment that allows their kids to excel and develop confidence in their abilities.
* How to support and encourage their kids' educations in ways that are best for him or her.
* How to teach their kids the strategies that help them each play to their individual learning strengths.
Book reveals how each of the eight personality types naturally:
* Get organized
* Get motivated
* Approach new concepts
* Learn in groups
* Take notes and "file" knowledge
* Tackle homework and test prep
* Gravitate to certain extracurriculars and teachers
* Handle successes and failures


As a way of explaining, because I found the methods great, I have 2 sons who are more of a hybrid of your set types of learners. This presented problems with their learning. In math, science, music, and reading they're extroverts – the EIP type. English (the basics and actually writing a paper), and social studies are subjects they had difficulty with, similar to the ISJ type. Their teachers classified both as smart but challenged, which only made them more determined to fight against the classes that befuddled them. One child ended up being homeschooled when a teacher kept sending him home for acting out in class. I did spend a day observing a class (where she said he was at his worst) and saw a child trying to participate and being ignored. I didn't do this as his mommy, but as a parent determined to discover why a child who enjoyed learning prior to kindergarten no longer wanted to go to school.
Just as a quick aside to classifying your children as Extraverted Intuitive with respect to some areas of learning and Introverted Sensing in others, you might find this article I wrote of interest. I didn’t delve into it in this particular book because I thought it might get a little confusing.
1.    Can this system be used by homeschoolers, where the parent is also the teacher?
Absolutely. Actually, homeschoolers have been the ones who have found the book to be the most beneficial because it does go into such detail about how they can make learning more fun, interesting and engaging for their kids—even with subjects that they don’t immediately love. Homeschoolers also are in the unique position to be able to really individualize lessons instead of “teaching to the middle” so the book can be helpful whether you use it to
a.   decide which packaged curriculum products to purchase;
b.   modify TeachersPayTeachers or Lesson Planet lesson plans; or
c.   develop lessons on your own or customize lessons suggested by other homeschoolers.
2.   How do you work around a teacher who refuses to adapt to an extrovert in some subjects and an introvert in others, and instead punishes the child with time-outs?
This sounds like reversal theory at play. When people—especially kids—get stressed out, they literally “flip out” from a temperament perspective. For instance, if your child is really anxious about something, instead of being the analytical kid you know and love that sees decisions in black-and-white, the landscape will become a gray area and he’ll be overly emotional and sensitive. Thinkers and feelers tend to pendulum swing MOST in the area of extraversion or introversion after switching from T to F or vice-versa. So, often the sign of stress in these kids can manifest as talkative kids withdrawing or reflective kids talking a mile a minute.
Sensing and intuitive kids, however, pendulum swing MOST in the judging/perceiving aspects of their personalities. Perceiving kids that typically enjoy the journey will crave a game plan and fly into a tizzy if things don’t go according to plan. Judging kids who typically like to reach a conclusion as soon as humanly possible will get nervous about any potential directions they haven’t explored yet and stay in the realm of possibilities much longer than normal.
If your child is “flipping out” during one subject, chances are good that they sense that they aren’t keeping up with the class or that the lesson is moving FAR too slowly. Talk to your child one-on-one about it to see whether the stress is coming from the subject moving too fast or too slowly. Schedule a meeting with the teacher and come armed with some of the suggestions in the book to see if she might be willing to try one or two techniques to see if things get better—not just for your child, but from a classroom management perspective. Chances are, the awareness that children switch types (like Jekyll and Hyde) under stress will improve their teaching not only this year with your child, but in future school years because there will be an awareness that when a child switches types, the child is experiencing some kind of stress.
3.   What if your child is a hybrid of these types? How do you make the teacher understand that the child needs more help in one subject and not others?
This is the challenge for many students in school, because they are “twice exceptional.” They are incredibly bright, but not in ALL ways. Because of this, these kids often get classified as lazy or their parents are told they are “not living up to their potential.” This could not be further from the truth. Just because someone is a great mathematician does not mean they will also be a great ballerina. Just because a child thrives in oral expression does not mean that written expression will come easily to her. If a child does start flipping types in certain subjects in the classroom, immediately talk to him about what he’s finding stressful about that subject, then schedule a meeting with the teacher to find out about how you might be able to mitigate the stress.
4.   About study groups. Many people I know live in a rural area. Scheduling a study group isn't a matter of walking a few houses, oftentimes the trip to get a group of similar children together to study means a trip of 20 miles or more. Would you advise using an online study group on Skype, with off camera supervision from all parents?
Absolutely. I would create one free teacher account on Kidzmet that you all can access and profile all of the kids. This will help you decide which pairings will be most effective for lessons. It can also be a great indicator for which older kids might be positioned best to tutor a younger child who is struggling! Remember to keep in mind that you do want to broaden types that work together as you get deeper into subject matter. Start with types that are coming at the “elephant” in a similar way, but make sure you ultimately work toward the students seeing all types of the elephant. Creating a teacher account like this might be eye-opening, because it can sometimes showcase the personality types that DO work in the U.S. school “system”. 

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