A couple weeks ago Renee Evansted blogged on a wonderful book, How Children Succeed. This week, I would like to take the opportunity to tag onto Renee’s post and point out a few of the ways that the Junior League of Minneapolis is furthering some of the ideals laid out in the book, and also point out a few areas where we have the opportunity to get involved. You can read the previous blog post for more context on the book, and it also linked to an article that summarizes the book:
- One of the things that is important for children to be able to succeed as adults is self-control. The Economist article (above) summarizes, “children who grow up in abusive or dysfunctional environments generally find it harder to concentrate, sit still and rebound from disappointments. The part of the brain most affected by early stress is the prefrontal cortex, which is critical for regulating thoughts and mediating behaviour.” This characteristic begins in very early childhood. The JLM makes a significant difference in this space with the Crisis Nursery, founded by the JLM and community partners. The Crisis Nursery provides a safe place for the children of distressed, and oftentimes disadvantaged, families.
- The H.O.M.E.S. project, a newer one for JLM, focuses on equipping parents with ways to continue Math, Engineering and Science actives through hands-on projects in their homes. One charter school that the book spends a lot of time on, KIPP, is having a lot of success in closing the achievement gap with its students. KIPP cites “Choice & Commitment” as one of their five pilars, or operating principles. A key componenet of this pillar is commitment and involvement from parents. The H.O.M.E.S. project focuses on exactly that.
- As JLM members, you know and have participated in numerous other ways the league makes a difference toward our chosen issue. However, this book, and the KIPP model in particular, illustrate additional things that are having a profound impact on children’s success. I’ll outline a few of them as food for thought in the new year. How can the JLM, or you as an individual, advocate and work toward closing the achievement gap by focusing on some of these things:
- High Expectations – KIPP has high expectations for academic achievement and accepts no excuses based on a student’s background. Who are the right partners for the league and what are the right projects in this space, if any?
- More Time – KIPP has an extended school day, week and year, allowing more time for learning. How does the JLM provide this outside the classroom, or how could/should we?
- Choice and Commitment – I mentioned this one above but it’s worth thinking about since it has been well researched that higher parental involvement and higher academic achievement are correlated. Parental involvement can be thought about in the context of the league or also personally for those who have children, nieces, nephews, etc. The involvement and commitment piece for KIPP also extends to teachers and students. Are there things we can do in the league to driver ownership and commitment within one or many of these groups?
I will echo Renee’s recommendation – How Children Succeed is a worthwhile read, and it’s inspiring to recognize that the JLM is already involved in many of the critical components that put children on the path to success.
Post contributed by Kacie DeWolf.