There is much science and research on how to help children be successful in school. In order to help our kids, we need to build their educational muscles teaching them to be self-directed learners, helping them feel in control of their own learning.
Here is what you need to know as parents and educators:
1. Focus on the right things:
It is assumed that a child’s Intelligence Quotient (IQ) score correlates with his ability to do well in school and become a successful adult. However, IQ only measures a child’s cognitive skills (logical ability, linguistic/verbal ability, visual spatial skills numerical skills and general intelligence). Research has shown that the focus on Cognitive skills is too narrow. In actuality, helping children develop Non-Cognitive skills is a better predictor of academic success.
2. What are Non-Cognitive Skills?:
According to Paul Tough, in his book, “How Children Succeed” Non-Cognitive Skills include Executive Function Skills, particularly Cognitive Flexibility, Working Memory and Emotional Regulation. Non-Cognitive Skills also include the character traits of perseverance, conscientiousness (self-control/emotional regulation), optimism, resilience and curiosity. These Non-Cognitve Skills are what children need in order to succeed at school, in the community, and in the workplace because they enable children to handle stress and manage strong emotions.
3. Can we teach this?
According to Tough, these Non-Cognitive Skills can be taught, even more so than IQ and can be improved well into adolescence and even adulthood.
4. What are the benefits?
The acquisition of these Non-Cognitive skills correlate with all manner of positive outcomes. Children who develop these traits are less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol, and are more likely to maintain healthy social relationships. Blair and Raver (2014) in their report, “Closing the Achievment Gap” say, “Research has shown that executive functions, defined as cognitive flexibility, working memory, and inhibitory control are malleable and predict academic achievement in children over and above IQ and socioeconomic status.”
5.Here’s the proof:
Tough, 2012, illustrates this point and the importance of teaching the charachter traits of perseverance, conscientiousness (self-control/emotional regulation), optimism, resilience and curiosity. He tells the story of Kipp Academy, a middle school in the South Bronx. The goal of Kipp Academy was to ensure that 75 percent of KIPP alumni would graduate from a four-year college, and 100 percent would be prepared for a stable career.
They looked like they were well on their way. In 1999, the first graduating class excelled on their achievement tests, scoring the highest in the Bronx and fifth-highest in all of New York City. May of them also won admission to highly selective private and Catholic schools, often with full scholarships.
However, the graduates fell short of the goals Kipp Academy had laid out for them. Tough reports, “Almost every member of the cohort did make it through high school, and more than 80 percent of them enrolled in college. But then the mountain grew steeper, and every few weeks, another student dropped out…only 33 percent of students who graduated from a KIPP middle school graduated from a four-year college.”
The most important part of the story is this:
[It was found that] the students who persisted in college were not necessarily the ones who had excelled academically at KIPP; they were the ones with exceptional character strengths, like optimism and persistence and social intelligence. They were the ones who were able to recover from a bad grade and resolve to do better next time; to bounce back from a fight with their parents; to resist the urge to go out to the movies and stay home and study instead; to persuade professors to give them extra help after class. Those skills weren’t enough on their own to earn students a B.A… But for young people without the benefit of a lot of family resources, without the kind of safety net that their wealthier peers enjoyed, they seemed an indispensable part of making it to graduation day.”
In our next article, we will talk about ways to build children’s character and help them develop the Executive Function skills of Cognitive Flexibility, Working Memory and Emotional Regulation.
Does your child need an IEP?
Come and join us for a highly informative evening:
Speaker: Courtney Evenchik, MA. NCSP
Director of School Psychology Services
Where: Residence Inn by Mariott Beachwood
3628 Park East Drive
Beachwood, Ohio 44122
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Parents will learn:
What is an IEP?
Is my child eligible?
What types of interventions are available?
What is the referral process and how does it work?
What are your legal rights as parents?
Click here to sign up:
The ABCs of IEPs
Blair C., Raver C. (2014) Closing the Achievement Gap through Modification of Neurocognitive and Neuroendocrine Function: Results from a Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial of an Innovative Approach to the Education of Children in Kindergarten, PLOS One. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0112393
Tough, P. (2012) How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiousity and the Hidden Power of Character. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing