A Message from the Superintendent
Quitter’s Don’t Win----and---Winner’s Don’t Quit!!! How many times have we heard that cliché over the years? Quitting is not always about being or not being tough…….it is about PERSISTENCE. Persistence is a hot topic in educational research these days. Persistence is not only critical for success in school, but all throughout life for being a great worker, to parenting, and to just getting through the day-to-day life struggles. What words do we use to describe leaders, or those who just are hard workers and the drive for success: determined, diligent, tenacious, etc… Do they describe your child? Angela Duckworth, a psychologist from the University of Pennsylvania describes these types of kids as “gritty”!!! They finish what they start, they overcome obstacles, and they achieve their goals. Researchers continue to examine how so-called “soft”, non-cognitive skills like persistence affect academic success as it becomes increasingly clear that these qualities are even more predictive of achievement than intelligence or talent. While there is still much to learn about teaching kids to “buckle down” and “work hard”, research suggests that parents play a vital role in this development.
Here are 8 ways to nurture persistence---GRIT- --in your child over time:
1. Let them play and discover what they truly love. Let them become passionate about something, let them discover new things that are intriguing. According to Duckworth, “Before those who have yet to fix on passion are ready to spend hours a day diligently honing skills, they must goof around, triggering and retriggering interest.” Exploring the world through outings, media, exhibits, new people, extracurricular clubs, classes and lessons can spark lifelong interests.
2. Teach and exhibit self-controlling behaviors. Self-control is the quality that comes into play when you have two possible actions to choose from, one that promises immediate pleasure, the other not as pleasurable in the moment but that serves a more distant goal. Studies have shown that higher levels of self-control early in life predict how well kids do academically, as well as a host of other positive outcomes including adult earnings, savings, and physical health.
3. Set high expectations. High achievers who persevere in the face of challenges tend to come from families with high standards for their academic success and a home environment that supports learning. As they reach for those high expectations, it is vital to reassure them and compliment them on their hard work and determination. There are many successes that occur as they strive for the ultimate goal. Even if the highest goal is not reached, compliment their “grit” for working hard and not giving up.
4. Praise the process. If you want to raise a kid who is eager to take on challenges and is not deterred by obstacles, don’t praise them for being smart; it may make them reluctant to try something harder for fear they will fail, thus it will reveal that they are not smart after all. Praise children for their hard work, they are more likely to seek out challenges and keep going when things get tough. They become more motivated, more persistent, and more successful.
5. Encourage goals big and small. Helping your child set short-,medium-, and long-term goals that reflect their personal values and interests can teach them persistence. Your child’s goals should be in what is referred to as the “optimal” zone---not too easy, not too hard, but just right. Hard goals can help your child focus their attention, work harder, and develop strategic thinking, however a goal that is so difficult and beyond their ability to achieve, may set them up for anxiety.
6. Extra-curricular activities help. Activities outside of regular school hours, such as 4-H, Scouts, sports, drama, debate, or fine-arts are a great context for learning how to work hard over time. Students who participate in extra-curricular activities get better grades, have higher self-esteem, lower rates of depression, and lower drop-out rates than students who don’t. Students who devote more than one year to the same activity are more likely to graduate from a postsecondary educational program, as well as, increases the likelihood of employment soon after college.
7. Visualizing/Imagining. When it comes to tenacity, studies show that visualizing a future goal---and the potential obstacles to achieving it---really works. In short----Plan for the best, but prepare for the worst!!!
8. As a parent—Do, a style check? Research suggests that your parenting style can affect how determined your child is. What has been learned that an authoritative parenting style that is supportive, nurturing, and positive is likely to lead the child into developing a stronger, persistent personality trait. It is not the authoritarian style that is harsh, demanding, and controlling…but rather maintains high expectations and teaches their children how to think, plan, Page 2 execute, and adjust. The vision for the future of education in the State of Kansas that is referred to as KANSANS CAN includes focusing on developing such soft-skills as persistence. This is a Social-Emotional trait that should be honed at school, in the home, and in the communities. Society has and will continue to put a huge amount of pressure on our children and it is up to us to prepare them, not only academically, but emotionally as well.
Yours in education,
William J. Clark, Superintendent/Director of Special Services