January 28, 2013
PROVIDENCE, RI — WKCD recently prepared a handbook and PowerPoint series on "Advice for Parents: Helping Your Child Succed in School And Life." We started with the premise that young people need more than academic "smarts" to prosper. They must also develop “character strengths” like grit, curiosity, conscientiousness, even optimism. They need to learn self-control and how to manage stress. The more curious and resourceful children are, the better. They need self-confidence—the belief that they can succeed in spite of obstacles. Educators often call this “social-emotional learning": the skills that don’t show up on standardized tests.
We realized that the materials we produced for parents might be adapted for students. The YouTube video we've embedded here includes clips of student talking about the habits we highlight: managing stress, self-control, motivation, persistence, curiosity, resourcefulness, and self-confidence. The 11-min. video is intended to prompt discussion among students, with many places to pause and reflect.
We've created a short booklet, too. In the introduction, we write:
Doing well in school isn’t only about academic “smarts.” It’s also about habits, like self-control and motivation. These habits—or strengths—help us succeed in school and life.
Like muscles, both academic smarts and good habits can be built through practice.
For twelve years, What Kids Can Do (WKCD) has talked with thousands of middle and high school students about what it takes—and what gets in the way—of doing well in school. In this short booklet—a companion to our “Winning Habits” video—we offer some of the advice students have given us and some of what cognitive scientists have to say.
This is just the tip of the iceberg: there are hundreds of helpful ideas, tips, and exercises available that can help you build these "character strengths." Our hope is that you will get acquainted with these terms, discuss them, practice some of the ideas, and develop an appetite for more.
Winning Habits: Strengths for School—and Life
Ideas and Exercises for Students
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“There’s a radical—and wonderful—new idea here… that all children could and should be inventors of their own theories, critics of other people’s ideas, analyzers of evidence, and makers of their own personal marks on the world.”
– Deborah Meier, educator