Our Educational Theory

This is a big topic ranging from teaching styles to learning styles and much more. Wikipedia defines educational or learning theory as: “How students receive, process, and retain knowledge during learning. And how cognitive, emotional and environmental influences, including prior experience, all play a part in how understanding (or a world view) is acquired or changed.”

The cornerstones of our educational theory are learning how to learn, social-emotional learning, and cognitive behavioral therapy. We’ll talk about each one of these below, starting with our most fun cornerstone and ending with our goals. But in short:

Our educational theory and goal. (TLDR.)

We believe that kids (and adults) are driven by passion and that they learn by doing — playing. So every concept we teach is accompanied by a hands-on game or activity. We believe both our theories and lessons, should be evidence-based, meaning tested and proven in the real world. And, our end goal is to empower people to teach themselves how to overcome obstacles and live the life of their dreams.

Learning how to learn

Teaching kids to teach themselves

As you can see in the image below, acquiring information is only the first step of learning. So, instead of filling students full of facts, we are teaching students how to teach themselves. They are learning to learn.

A few types that we are focusing on are:

  • Learning through play: This approach gives children a choice about what they want to do. It feels fun because it is driven by the child’s own motivation to explore in a risk-free environment. Play actually encourages “mistakes” as a path to learning. Thus they learn that when all else fails, there is no better advice than to just get up and do it!
  • Discovery Learning (Inquiry-based learning): This approach is all about stimulating a student’s curiosity.  A lot, if not all, learning begins with questions and ends, not in answers, but more questions. This approach allows students to dive deep into their own areas of interest. And, best of all, students tend to embrace concepts that they have discovered for themselves.
  • Cooperative Learning: This involves working in groups (small teams), where students with different abilities help each other, and which also exposes students to differing points of view. It’s the power of collaboration. And, who doesn’t need to learn how to play nicely with others!?

Learning Through Play

How to turn dreams into reality: Dream It! Map It! Play It!Games, hands-on activities and stories are central to our educational theory or what you might call our philosophy of learning, because all our books and lessons involve play, and playing is scientifically proven to help you learn. Even animals play games. So, that’s why we include a game or activity with all our lessons, so that students can put into practice what they have learned right away. This concept is so important to us that you can see we included the idea of a game in our very own logo. Our logo is a crossword puzzle, and it reinforces the three steps of turning dreams into reality.

Acquiring information is only the first step of learning

As our co-author Scott likes to say, you can read all the books in the world and still not know how to ride a bicycle. We do believe knowledge is power, but facts without understanding are just trivia. It’s the difference between knowing and doing. 

Bloom's Taxonomy of Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: Remember, Understand, Apply, Analyze, Evaluate, Create

Above you can see one of the learning models that we love. It’s called “Bloom’s Taxonomy for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment.” Whew! What a mouthful. You can see that the goal isn’t to learn facts, it’s to take all those facts, add them together, and create something new. In other words, insight and inspiration (dreams) rarely come from knowledge alone but come from adding two things together to make something new. Or as Dr Sara likes to say, “The Gestalt.”

In other words, we like to encourage students to brainstorm (the first few levels of the pyramid) and mix up all those ideas into new and surprising things (the top of the pyramid).

Social Emotional Learning

What are social-emotional skills?

Per our partners at CASEL: “Social and emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.” 

In other words, emotions like passion are fundamental for helping a student find motivation and stay focused. An example we like to use is that if a student likes to explore, they may want to be an astronaut, and the excitement and passion of that dream will fuel their motivation to learn math and science. 

Our Educational Theory and our Dream Theory both incorporate social-emotional learning. Our books, games and activities are designed to improve key social-emotional areas related to making dreams a reality. And, our original dream research used assessment tools like DESSA and Panorama Education to demonstrate improvements in these areas, particularly: perseverance, optimistic thinking, growth mindset and hope. We also demonstrated improvements in both quality and quantity of dreams, as well as improvement in the overall school atmosphere.  

Our work primarily involves the categories of Self-Awareness, which includes:

  • Linking feelings, values, and thoughts.
  • Having a growth mindset.
  • Developing interests and a sense of purpose.

Self-Management, which includes:

  • Managing one’s emotions.
  • Exhibiting self-discipline and self-motivation.
  • Setting personal and collective goals.
  • Using planning and organizational skills.
  • Showing the courage to take initiative.
And Responsible Decision-Making, which includes:
  • Demonstrating curiosity and open-mindedness.
  • Learning how to make a reasoned judgment after analyzing information.
  • Identifying solutions for personal and social problems.

Below is the social-emotional wheel from our partners at CASEL Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning. (We are part of their SEL Provider’s Council.) If you want to learn more about social-emotional learning, we recommend CASEL’s Fundamentals of SEL.SO

Social-emotional wheel showing the 5 main areas: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making.

Evidence-based

For the record, our ground-breadking book, Dream It! and the corresponding SEL Curriculum are scientifically proven to increase the following social-emotional skills.

Optimistic Thinking

Grit

Hope

Growth Mindset

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Central to both our Educational Theory and Dream Theory is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. CBT is very simple. It says that if we change the way act or the way we think, it changes how we feel. Our co-author Dr Sara, uses this theory in her daily practice teaching kids how to overcome chronic pain. When it comes to dreams, we use our games, activities and stories, which are thoughts and actions, to inspire passion. In turn, passion can inspire hope, perseverance and much more. This is the most basic description. You can find much more about this topic online. 

A heart, foot step and brain representing feelings, actions and thoughts. They all point to each other illustrating how one affects another.

Our Goals

Teaching Optimistic Thinking

Now you can see how our website and our book, Dream It, are designed to harness the natural power of children’s imaginations to teach them how to discover what they are passionate about, and help them find their inspiration to turn their dreams into reality. Thus developing this most important skill of childhood to build a foundation of passion for their future. To do this, the Playbook uses visually stimulating and interactive exercises to tackle dreams from every angle: from conceptual to feeling to playing. And, it is designed for a variety of learning and teaching styles, and filled with unique emotional exercises to connect students to their passion. You could say what we are really teaching is optimistic thinking, hope, faith, perseverance (grit) and a growth mindset.

For Children
  • To inspire the imagination of the “impossible” and thinking outside of the box
  • To create the foundation of a life goal and the self-motivation to take action to live that life to the fullest
  • To encourage attitudes that are hopeful, open-minded, cooperative and forward-thinking
  • To provide kids a method and platform to share their thoughts, feelings and ideas
For Parents
  • To provide a tangible way for parents and children to bond over life values and goals
  • To inspire your children to be the creators of their own destiny
  • To create a memory that will become a cherished family heirloom
For Professionals
  • To provide a useful tool for working with kids in educational and therapeutic disciplines
  • To create an experiential learning opportunity to develop basic life skills like: creativity, critical thinking, reading, writing and more
  • To provide insight into student’s learning styles and personality
  • To facilitate social and emotional learning, particularly in the area of self-awareness, optimistic thinking, goal-setting and overcoming obstacles.
For Groups:
  • Since we don’t live in the world alone, it’s essential that kids not only learn how to dream but also how to play with others. When it comes to making dreams a reality, history proves this true because even something as simple as an ice cream cone was the result of two people working together.
  • If groups want to use the book in the classroom, a workshop, or even a birthday party, students will get a chance to put these skills to practice and share and collaborate dreams with their classmates.
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