The third presentation in our Inspiring Learning Series took place this past Monday, and featured the topic “Success in School 101: Rethinking What We Know.”
At this lunchtime session, presenter and Summit Liaison for Parent Learning Julie Smith joined first grade teacher Kate Helm, 8th grade English teacher Betsy McNeer, and renowned medical doctor, Summit parent and author Dr. Kathi Kemper to explore what lays the groundwork for school success. Below are some key points from the session--and they may surprise you.
We invite you to post your reflections on Monday’s session—or to offer your thoughts in response to these summary points.
Notions of Success
• We all have ideas of what Success looks like.
• These may not all be the same—and our notions as parents may come in conflict with the wider society’s, our spouse’s, our friends’ and our children’s.
• Knowing our own definition can help focus our families and support our children.
• Our ideas of success may change over time and through experience. Be open to those changes.
Skills Related to Success
• The skills needed by our kids who will enter a 21st century workforce are different than in the past and require different preparation both by schools and parents. These skills include Tony Wagner’s Seven Survival Skills:
+ Critical thinking and problem solving
+ Collaboration and leadership
+ Agility and adaptability
+ Initiative and entrepreneurialism
+ Effective oral and written communication
+ Accessing and analyzing information
+ Curiosity and imagination
• These changes coupled with other cultural changes create an environment where anxiety can interfere with goals.
• Collaborative efforts are essential to meet new global challenges. This opens the door to a deeper parent-school partnership.
Skills and Qualities that Make Children More Likely to Learn in School and Succeed Beyond School
• Ask questions
• Understand boundaries: Make a plan before you need a plan. Explore issues with your children before they happen.
• Willing to fail: There are real benefits to kids taking a risk, but failure can be hard for parents to watch—perhaps harder than for kids to experience. Sometimes as parents, we want to place our children in a bubble, protecting them from life’s ups and downs. Remember: there is so much learning that happens in the effort—and in failure. Children need to experience the hurt and disappointment of failure—and to learn that they can bounce back from it. Our job is to prepare the child for the path, not the path for the child—in a word, to cultivate resilience. As challenges inevitably become more complex, we want our children to have a bank of strategies to draw from.
• Like learning: discover one’s passion(s), be open to different opportunities, clarify one’s own definition of success.
• Work hard (growth mindset)
• Respect others
• Self advocate
Nurture Shock: How not to over-parent
• Praise can undermine confidence, motivation and resilience
• Behavior in kindergarten isn’t necessarily predictive of behavior later in school—or in life! Children can—and do—change.
• Authoritarian parenting cultivates mere obedience. Authoritative parenting cultivates an internal locus of control. Authoritarian parents dictate. Authoritative parents reason (and, occasionally, dictate). Help your kids learn to think for themselves.
• Protect play time and recognize that all children, including teens, need time to play—to explore their passions, to take intellectual risks, to create something new or surprising
• Protect sleep time—including with teenagers. Too little sleep decreases: motivation, attention, memory, self-control, speed of thinking. Research reveals that 85% of American teens are mildly sleep-drived—and that 10%-40% are extremely sleep-deprived.
• Give teens the opportunity to take good (healthy) risks.
• Don’t expect your teen to tell you everything.
• Observe our children and teens: Look at who they are, not simply who they have been or who we want them to be. We are raising our children, ultimately, to leave us—to be independent, resilient, and ready to embrace life beyond us.
• Remember: Our children are watching how we, as parents learn—how we react, how we manage change, how we deal with stress. . .
• Have real conversations with our kids: We probably think we listen more than we really do.
• Begin conversations with your kids (especially teens) by asking open-ended questions, then listen. (“How did that happen?” “How do you plan to solve the problem?” “How can I help?”) This takes time and energy, and it’s worth every minute.
• Help kids reflect on their strategies for dealing with the day-to-day challenges they face: balancing extracurriculars with school, managing friendships, dealing with stress.
• Recognize this fact, then find ways to support our kids in it: Young people who are motivated to serve others are more likely to have career success.
• Think: Parent as learner
Stress can undermine our best intentions
• Stress is seemingly ubiquitous. It interferes with executive function in our brains, impairs us emotionally and attentionally, and, in effect, can make us stupid (at least in the moment).
• How can parents or schools help children manage the stress in their lives? Try supporting your kids in doing these:
+ Activate positive emotions through breathing, exercise and guided imagery
+ Care for others and extend compassion
+ Get proper nutrition
+ Get enough sleep
+ Engage in physical activity
+ Enjoy outdoor time
+ Create a calm space for focusing
+ Engage in open-ended conversation
+ Provide support in times of success and failure
+ Hone skills that lead to independence
+ Read books
+ Have protected time to think and play
+ Learn together as a family
+ Engage with interesting adults, including parents!
+ Enjoy time and space that are technology free
Success in School 101 Resource List
Po Bronson, “In Defense of Children Behaving Badly,” Newsweek.
Po Bronson, “How Not to Helicopter,” Newsweek.
Katie Goldsmith, “How Parents Can Help Their Middle Schoolers Succeed,” GreaterGood.
Anahid Modrek, “Serve Others, Find Success,” GreaterGood
Jane Nelsen, Chip DeLorenzo, “Curiosity Questions,” Montessori Life, Fall 2010.
Nurture Shock http://www.nurtureshock.com
Tony Wagner, “Rigor Redefined,” Change, Leadership Group.
Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, Nurtureshock
Carol Dweck, Mindset
Howard Gardner, Five Minds for the Future
Kathi Kemper, Mental Health, Naturally
Daniel Pink, A Whole New Mind
Tony Wagner, The Global Achievement Gap