The ‘Problem Child’ Is a Child, Not a Problem (NYT)

“Matt’s behavior started to turn around in fifth grade, after his parents began using Collaborative Problem Solving (C.P.S.), a technique designed to build self-regulation skills. Many children are lagging in skills like impulse control, managing frustration and understanding social cues that are the foundation of self-control. Suspension does nothing to build those skills. Collaborative Problem Solving, in contrast, recognizes that behavior is not simply a function of motivation; it’s a function of skills and practice. C.P.S. replaces a traditional philosophy of “children do well when they want to” with one that ‘children do well when they can.'”

Inequality, Non-cognitive Skills, and Character Strengths

Thomas Edsall is an opinion columnist for the New York Times who often writes about the intersection of inequality and politics. His articles typically synthesize research findings and the perspectives of experts, whose commentary he frequently quotes. His latest piece, “What Does It Take to Climb Up the Ladder?” discusses the important role of non-cognitive skills and character strengths in social mobility.

Edsall draws on the work on numerous researchers to show the links between income, maternal education, and family stability, on the one hand, and non-cognitive skills on the other. As he concludes,

“The result is a vicious circle: family disruption perpetuates disadvantage by creating barriers to the development of cognitive and noncognitive skills, which in turn sharply reduces access to college. The lack of higher education decreases life chances, including the likelihood of achieving adequate material resources and a stable family structure for the next generation.”

Edsall highlights Paul Tough’s work on the importance of environments in which children feel a sense of belonging and growth and experience relatedness and competence. He challenges policymakers, and Democrats in particular, to find ways to support family stability and “capitalize on the ample supply of character strengths evident among America’s poor.”

New York Times: “What Does It Take to Climb Up the Ladder?

Teaching Your Child Emotional Agility

“It’s hard to see a child unhappy. Whether a child is crying over the death of a pet or the popping of a balloon, our instinct is to make it better, fast.

That’s where too many parents get it wrong, says the psychologist Susan David, author of the book ‘Emotional Agility.’ Helping a child feel happy again may offer immediate relief for parent and child, but it doesn’t help a child in the long term.

‘How children navigate their emotional world is critical to lifelong success,’ she said.

Research shows that when teachers help preschoolers learn to manage their feelings in the classroom, those children become better problem solvers when faced with an emotional situation, and are better able to engage in learning tasks. In teenagers, ’emotional intelligence,’ or the ability to recognize and manage emotions, is associated with an increased ability to cope with stressful situations and greater self-esteem. Some research suggests that a lack of emotional intelligence can be used to predict symptoms of depression and anxiety.”

New York Timeshttps://go.edc.org/yxke

“Kindergarten Readiness Begins Early in New Bedford”

A great article about how New Bedford, MA has come together to support a focused Birth–3rd strategy. Thanks to Titus DosRemedios and Strategies for Children for laying it out so clearly and compellingly (and for the kind mention). Titus has also been a key contributor to New Bedford’s Partnership. It has been very inspiring to see New Bedford embrace this work. The district and the community have brought great ideas and experience to the table, and we are seeing the results in a concerted program of on-the-ground activity this fall.

Also of note, emerging out of this work is a deepening and very promising partnership between the New Bedford Public Schools and the Housing Authority. With district support, the Housing Authority is expanding and developing the educational components of its after-school programs. District teachers and “resident service coordinators” from the Housing Authority will meet regularly to discuss the children they share in common; resident service coordinators are participating in the district’s early literacy professional development, which also includes both district and community-based prekindergarten teachers; and the district’s literacy coach is advising the Housing Authority on program design, book purchases, and other aspects of the after-school program.

Kindergarten Readiness Begins Early in New Bedford (Eye on Early Education)

“Why What You Learned in Preschool Is Crucial at Work”

… Skills like cooperation, empathy and flexibility have become increasingly vital in modern-day work. Occupations that require strong social skills have grown much more than others since 1980, according to new research. And the only occupations that have shown consistent wage growth since 2000 require both cognitive and social skills.

Preschool classrooms, Mr. Deming said, look a lot like the modern work world. Children move from art projects to science experiments to the playground in small groups, and their most important skills are sharing and negotiating with others. But that soon ends, replaced by lecture-style teaching of hard skills, with less peer interaction.

Work, meanwhile, has become more like preschool.

Why What You Learned in Preschool Is Crucial at Work (New York Times)

New Social and Emotional Learning Standards in Massachusetts

Eye on Early Education reports on Massachusetts’ new Social and Emotional Learning Standards:

The standards explain: “As Preschool children enter group settings, they engage in a growing circle of deepening relationships with adults and peers outside of the family, and move from self-focused activity to participation in groups. They develop a growing set of skills with guidance and meaningful feedback from caring adults, including skills in developing friendships, following rules and routines, playing in a group, resolving conflicts, sharing, and taking turns, along with essential dispositions for learning.”

and

The benefits for children could be huge. As PBS Newshour’s Judy Woodruff reported during the summer: “In a report released today, researchers tracked more than 700 children from kindergarten to age 25. They found students’ social skills, like cooperation, listening to others and helping classmates, held strong clues for how those children would fare two decades later. In some cases, social skills may even be better predictors of future success than academic ones.”

Carol Dweck Revisits the ‘Growth Mindset’

Carol Dweck, renowned Stanford professor and author of “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success,” offers important advice about the hard work of promoting growth mindsets. Be sure to see her discussion of the growth mindset being about more than sheer effort and the helpful graphic at the end.

From the article:

… a few years back, I published my book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success to share these discoveries with educators. And many educators have applied the mindset principles in spectacular ways with tremendously gratifying results.

This is wonderful, and the good word continues to spread. But as we’ve watched the growth mindset become more popular, we’ve become much wiser about how to implement it. This learning—the common pitfalls, the misunderstandings, and what to do about them—is what I’d like to share with you, so that we can maximize the benefits for our students.

Interesting Takes on the Kindergarten Social Competence Study

A new study shows that kindergarten teachers’ ratings of social competence strongly predict important adult outcomes. The study has received much attention in the popular press, including a number of thoughtful reactions:

The gist from a summary by the study’s funder, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:

Overall, research findings show that teacher-rated social competence in kindergarten was a consistent and significant indicator of both positive and negative future outcomes across all major domains: education, employment, criminal justice, substance use and mental health. Study results also showed the greater the difference between students’ social competence scores in kindergarten, the more pronounced the difference in their outcomes by the age of 25. Children who scored “well”—at the higher end of the spectrum for social competence—for example, were four times more likely to obtain a college degree than children who scored “a little”—at the lower end of the spectrum.

Continue reading “Interesting Takes on the Kindergarten Social Competence Study”

Social and Emotional Learning in Schools: Excerpts from a Helpful Overview

A large-scale meta-analysis of 213 studies involving over 270,000 students confirmed that SEL [social-emotional learning] produces significant positive effects in six different aspects of adjustment. These outcomes included improvements in academic performance, SEL skills, prosocial behaviors, and attitudes toward self and others (e.g., self-esteem, bonding to school), as well as reductions in conduct problems and emotional distress (e.g., anxiety and depression). [Emphasis added.]

Teachers were more successful when conducting programs than were outside staff members who entered the school to administer programs. This indicated that SEL interventions can be incorporated into routine educational practice. [Emphasis added.]

Unfortunately, most programs are introduced into schools as a succession of fragmented fads, isolated from other programs, and the school becomes a hodgepodge of prevention and youth development initiatives, with little direction, coordination, sustainability, or impact.

Many teachers respond favorably to the possibility of providing SEL programming to their students, although they need administrative and policy support to do so effectively. Their efforts are enhanced when … leaders champion a vision, policies, professional learning communities, and supports for coordinated classroom, schoolwide, family, and community programming. [Emphasis added.]

Continue reading “Social and Emotional Learning in Schools: Excerpts from a Helpful Overview”

New Infant-Toddler Report and Other Resources

The Center for American Progress has released a new report, “Emerging State and Community Strategies to Improve Infant and Toddler Services.” The report makes policy recommendations for financing and aligning infant-toddler services and includes examples of both state and community initiatives that target high-needs neighborhoods.

Decades of research on brain development and outcomes from early learning interventions have clearly demonstrated that children thrive when they have consistent access to high-quality early childhood programs starting at birth or even before and continuing until they enter kindergarten. Yet too often, programs that target young children provide services in isolation, are underfunded, and fail to meet the needs of all eligible families. Creating a continuum of services that are intentionally aligned to reach children for as long as possible can help ensure that early childhood services and programs effectively support all aspects of young children’s healthy development.

Also see Eye on Early Education’s piece on the Massachusetts Reading Corps:

“But are we really meeting the needs of the people we’re serving?”

That’s what Shannon Langone wanted to know in 2007 when she started working for the AmeriCorps program at Springfield College.

“What can we do that we know will work?” she wondered and set out to find ways to make a measurable difference for school children.

She found an answer in the Midwest: the Minnesota Reading Corps.

And as another indication of the growing recognition of the importance of social-emotional skills:

Early Childhood Social-Skills Program Boosted by $20 Million Donation