Parents are their children’s first teacher, and it is highly unlikely that students will be successful in school without parental involvement.  Besides checking homework, going to parent-teacher conferences, showing up for PTA functions, and volunteering, what exactly does a parent need to teach?  Writer for Edutopia Steve Gardiner writes that parents are an important part of a core group of adults who teach their children a crucial academic skill, resilience.

What is resilience and why is it important?  Gardiner cites Drs. Robert Brooks and Sam Goldstein’s book, The Power of Resilience, to help clarify the meaning of resilience:  “Resilient individuals are those who have a set of assumptions or attitudes about themselves that influence their behaviors and the skills they develop.”  Students who don’t have resilience have trouble maintaining focus on tasks that become difficult or challenging.  When this happens, they give up, look for help, or even refuse to try.  Obviously, this impedes academic performance.  Long-term lack of resilience is a recipe for poor performance in school.

  1. Understand Your Role as Charismatic Adult – Brooks and Goldstein assert that the people who can help to change students’ mindsets are the charismatic adults in a child’s life.  Charismatic adults are the parents, teachers, administrators, coaches, older siblings or friends.  Children look to these people as their models for how to navigate the world and for support when life’s challenges appear.
  2. Help Student Identify Islands of Competence – Help students identify what they can do well and to connect those things to other areas of their lives.  Charismatic adults in a child’s life need to show the child the connection between what they do well and school subjects.  When a student can connect their strengths to another subject, they will have a stronger sense of success.  Children often don’t see a connection; helping them see this is important.
  3. Provide a Sense of Control – Helping a student develop personal control is important.  “Students who are allowed to make significant choices regarding their own educations are more likely to feel some control or ownership of their own lives.  This sense of control is powerful in supporting a resilient mindset.”  Give children a choice when appropriate.  This could be as simple as how to complete a homework assignment or which book to read.  It’s easier for them to feel  more connected to the task and better able to stick with it.

View this video of one of the book’s authors, Dr. Robert Brooks’ definition of resiliency and the charismatic adult:

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