Note: this entry is part of a series called "The Making of College Bound". Click here to read the series-to-date.
What's the secret to helping kids do well in school? We all know to help with homework and attend parent-teacher conferences. But what else is a father to do? You won't be surprised to hear that nurturing key character traits in young children leads to their educational success. But you may be surprised to hear about the easy, everyday ways to do this, and the expert research that backs it up.
Leading experts and psychologists offer compelling reasons for parents to develop their kids' motivation and self-control early:
- Character traits are malleable, meaning that parents can change an attitude or behavior in a child just by intervening as explicitly as they can.
- Willpower, self-discipline, and the ability to delay gratification are proven to predict academic achievement better than standard measures of intelligence, like IQ.
This is why we emphasize cultivating character traits as one of the four key roles of parents in College Bound.
The lesson "Nurture Your Child's Love for Learning" shows parents how to communicate with kids in a way that motivates them to want to learn. For example, did you know that it's more effective to praise a child's effort rather than her intelligence? In Nurture Shock, authors Po Bronson and Ashley Merriman argue that labeling kids with even positive innate attributes ("You're so smart") can undermine their confidence in their own ability to tackle difficult problems.
Companion lesson "Learning Self-Control" draws from another surprising discovery. Psychologist Lev Vygotsky found that children develop self-discipline while engaged in pretend play. In an issue of New York Times Magazine last year, author Paul Tough asks, "Can the right kinds of play teach self-control?" We believe it can. College Bound demonstrates make-believe play in young children that builds a foundation of healthy cognitive and emotional function. Practicing in a pretend world develops impulse-control and situational awareness, which prepares kids for following similar conventions in the real world.
These gems, and others like them, lie at the heart of College Bound. We think the combination of deep-seated research and simple how-to advice make for a winning approach to transforming parent engagement.
Next month we'll highlight some of our College Bound beta program partners.