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Pittsburgh Parenting Blog by Sewickley Academy

Sewickley Academy's Private School Blog

A Letter to Varsity Basketball Parents

Dear Varsity Basketball Parents,

It was a fun opening weekend as we played two different style opponents. Saturday's game in particular reflected so many different aspects of our team and a basketball game. The first half was tough to play, coach, and watch as we struggled to be a cohesive unit, partly due to Baldwin's play and part of it we owned. I was quite proud of the boys' demeanor at halftime despite the frustrations from the first half. They were not blaming each other; instead they readily listened to each other and the coaches' suggestions and ideas on how we could turn things around in the second half. There was no technical solution that we found at halftime, rather it was the inner confidence and belief that we could get it done together as a unit.

I told the team afterwards that it was a gritty victory, and that it is those types of victories that are truly important. When you face adversity, how do you rally and put the past behind you and focus on the present? We truly believe the entire team had a different affect the second half, as everyone pulled together as one and we were no longer 15 individuals. Outscoring Baldwin by 13 points in the second half after struggling in the first half was difficult to do.

This morning, I was reflecting on the word grit and discovered this University of Pennsylvania study that you may find interesting. It speaks to the enormity of what can be gained from a lengthy high school basketball season. I still remember a number of years ago, a young man saying to me, "Coach, all I want to do is play basketball - why do I have to think about these other things?" That young man is now a successful business man in his mid-40s with a growing family. While he has no memory of ever saying that, he still speaks to this day about the powerful lessons learned from his successful high school basketball teams that he instills in both his personal and work life.

A University of Pennsylvania (Penn) study found that “grit” (passion and perseverance for long-term goals) is the best predictor of success. Grit is unrelated to talent.

The Duckworth Lab at Penn's Positive Psychology Center focuses on two traits that predict success in life: grit and self-control. Founder and Scientific Director of the Character Lab Angela Duckworth defines grit as the tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward very long-term goals, and self-control as the voluntary regulation of behavioral, emotional, and attentional impulses in the presence of momentarily gratifying temptations or diversions. "On average, individuals who are gritty are more self-controlled, but the correlation between these two traits is not perfect: some individuals are paragons of grit but not self-control, and some exceptionally well-regulated individuals are not especially gritty," Penn's website states. "While we haven’t fully worked out how these two traits are related, it seems that an important distinction has to do with timescale: As Galton suggested, the inclination to pursue especially challenging aims over months, years, and even decades is distinct from the capacity to resist 'the hourly temptations,' pursuits which bring momentary pleasure but are immediately regretted."

Some educators typically prefer the umbrella term “social and emotional learning,” whereas many other educators, as well as philosophers and positive psychologists, embrace the moral connotations of “character” and “virtue.” So, grit and self-control are facets of Big Five conscientiousness, but are also conceptualized as dimensions of human character, social and emotional competency, and non-cognitive human capital."

While I recognize this is not easy reading on a leisurely Sunday, it speaks to the powerful moments, thoughts, and lessons our young men are gaining through their experiences playing a challenging schedule facing a bull's-eye on our backs throughout the WPIAL since we are blessed to have many talented players who are also very hard workers, all while facing academic challenges that rival their athletic challenges. 
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Topics: Parenting

Christmas Traditions From Around the World

Around the world, people are preparing for the elaborate Christmas celebrations of their respective countries. Because the United States is the "melting pot" nation, we have the pleasure of indulging in a great number of Christmas traditions from all over the world.

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Topics: Holidays

Homemade Gifts: Christmas From the Heart

During the busy holiday season, it can be difficult to come up with great holiday gift ideas for every member of the family. You may also find yourself struggling to balance a tight budget. These homemade gifts from the heart will help stretch your holiday budget and make you feel more involved in the holiday giving process – not to mention offering up some creative ideas for the most difficult people on your list. 

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Topics: Crafts, Gift Ideas, Holidays

Hot Holiday Gift Ideas for Every Kid on Your Nice List (Pst! They're Educational, Too!)

Thanksgiving has come and gone, Black Friday is over, and Cyber Monday is now a thing of the past. With only a few short weeks until Christmas Day, you have probably already invested in those must-have gifts that they cannot live without this year. Now is the time to invest in the gifts that they don’t even know exist yet, gifts that can help them not only have fun in unexpected places, but also learn a lot in the process. From the future programmer on your nice list to the "Paper Towns" fanatic who always has his or her nose in a good book, here are some of our favorite holiday gift ideas for every kid on your list.

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Topics: Parenting, Education, Gift Ideas, Holidays

Holiday Happenings in Pittsburgh

Nothing makes the holiday season quite so wonderful as all of the amazing sights, sounds, and events around town. Pittsburgh is one of the very best places to be during the holiday season due to its incredible lineup of holiday events and activities. Why not take advantage of a few of these events this year and make some lasting memories with your family?

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Topics: Local, Parenting, Holidays

Holiday Activities for Children: Crafts You'll Actually Use Again

Many of those adorable, sweet little Christmas crafts you make with your children simply don't survive more than a single year. Despite your best intentions, once they go in a box to be packed away, those decorations simply aren't as cute the following year - not to mention the fact that the kids will make more to replace them anyway. If you're looking for activities to do with your children this December, there are plenty of holiday activities for children you can make together that you'll love looking back on for years to come.

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Topics: Parenting

Six Tips For Parenting Your Pre-K or Kindergarten Student

The Pre-K and Kindergarten age is a pivotal time for children. They are becoming more and more independent, developing minds and opinions of their own, and are most likely a part of an ever-widening social circle. For children who have been home for the first few years of their lives, this marks a time where they will enter school and be away from their families for part of the day. For children who have been in day care, their day will become more structured as they enter a formal academic setting. At home, you may find that the parenting techniques you used when your children were toddlers are no longer working, or that your approach as a parent needs to evolve as your children grow. Here are some tips for parenting to incorporate into your home.

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Topics: Parenting

These Aren't Your Ordinary Fall Activities in Pittsburgh

Ah, cooler weather, hoodies, snugly throws on movie nights, pumpkin spice in the air, and the promise of good food on the holidays. There’s nothing quite like fall for enjoying the fruits of our labors, the harvest, or longer nights for star gazing. Many people think that once the temperature drops, there’s nothing to do. Au contraire! We can think of a bunch of outside-the-box fall activities in Pittsburgh. All you need is a little imagination and an adventurous spirit.

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Topics: Parenting

Celebrating Veterans Day with Kids

Though Veterans Day is likely not the holiday your children look forward to each year, it is definitely one that should be celebrated. Because this national holiday is the one day a year we have set aside to celebrate and honor our country's veterans, it is important that we make it count.

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Topics: Parenting, Education

Fun Fall Nature Crafts

Fall is upon us. This means brisk mornings, sweaters, and mugs of hot cocoa. It also means the outdoor landscape is changing, and everything is turning various shades of orange, red, and yellow. 

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Topics: Parenting, Crafts

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