Helping Children Succeed: What Works and Why by Paul Tough

9.-10. Attachment

  • Research indicates that interventions aimed at improving relationships between parents and infants can lead to higher IQ, less aggressive behavior, more self-control, and higher income for the children as adults. Interventions that teach face-to-face play, a calm voice, serve-and-return interactions, smiles, and warm touches are the way to go. Stressed out parents also need psychological and emotional support. Offering empathy and encouragement can make parents feel better about their relationship with their infant. Paul describes the Attachment and Biobehavioral Catch-up program and the Filming Interactions to Nurture Development program that both feature home-based interventions.

11. Beyond the Home

  • Educare is a network of early-childhood-education centers across the country that provide full-day childcare and preschool for children from low-income families, beginning as young as six weeks and continuing through age five. Educare costs about $20,000 per year per child — more or less the same as a year of public high school in a well-off suburb. It’s funded with Head Start money supplemented by philanthropists. Educare provides an environment with plenty of responsive, warm, serve-and-return interaction with caring adults during their first three years. The Educare model puts as much emphasis on the development of children’s non-cognitive capacities as it does on their literacy and numeracy abilities. Results are very encouraging. There are other early-childhood experts who are testing out less intensive (and less expensive) interventions. that Paul mentions here.

12. Building Blocks

  • From the first day of kindergarten forward, most children spend more of their waking hours in the care of their teachers than in the care of their parents. It means that if we want to intervene in the environments of disadvantaged children, we will probably find more effective leverage if we focus our attention on their school rather than their home. It also means that children who have been growing up in adverse environments filled with stress now have a new arena in which those stresses can manifest themselves and multiply. If you don’t have the mental tendencies that a stable, responsive early childhood tends to produce, the transition to kindergarten is likely to be significantly more fraught and overwhelming. As academic material becomes more complicated, they fall behind.

13. Discipline

  • Teachers usually to try to increase the cost of misbehavior by ratcheting up the punishment. This is ineffective for stressed students who have little ability to self-regulate. What is needed is to create a classroom environment in which students who lack self-regulatory capacities can find the tools and context they need to develop them. Unfortunately, many schools have turned to zero tolerance approaches. This has caused lots for suspensions with poor and minority kids getting far more than their share. And suspensions only increase academic struggling. It is also a myth that suspensions improve academic results for the non-suspended kids.
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