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Helping Children Succeed: What Works and Why

Helping Children Succeed: What Works and Why

by Paul Tough

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In How Children Succeed, Paul Tough introduced us to research showing that personal qualities like perseverance, self-control, and conscientiousness play a critical role in children’s success.
Now, in Helping Children Succeed, Tough takes on a new set of pressing questions: What does growing up in poverty do to


In How Children Succeed, Paul Tough introduced us to research showing that personal qualities like perseverance, self-control, and conscientiousness play a critical role in children’s success.
Now, in Helping Children Succeed, Tough takes on a new set of pressing questions: What does growing up in poverty do to children’s mental and physical development? How does adversity at home affect their success in the classroom, from preschool to high school? And what practical steps can the adults who are responsible for them—from parents and teachers to policy makers and philanthropists—take to improve their chances for a positive future?
Tough once again encourages us to think in a brand new way about the challenges of childhood. Rather than trying to “teach” skills like grit and self-control, he argues, we should focus instead on creating the kinds of environments, both at home and at school, in which those qualities are most likely to flourish. Mining the latest research in psychology and neuroscience, Tough provides us with insights and strategies for a new approach to childhood adversity, one designed to help many more children succeed.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Kevin Carey
Less a full-length sequel to How Children Succeed than a short companion, Helping Children Succeed argues that skills like emotional regulation and stick-to-it-iveness can't be taught in the same way children are trained to decode phonemes and solve quadratic equations. "No child ever learned curiosity by filling out curiosity work sheets," [Tough] notes. Instead, character is the product of environments in which children form strong, secure attachments to teachers and caregivers, and are taught in ways that stimulate their autonomy and ability to solve problems…Tough is adept at translating academic jargon into precise, accessible prose.
Library Journal
Tough (contributing writer, New York Times Magazine) builds on the research he outlined in his book How Children Succeed to address at great depth the ways adults can build success for children who face the greatest adversity. Contending that it is the environment that shapes children's ability to develop significant noncognitive skills such as perseverance and optimism, Tough presents research that shows success in these areas is possible for all children. Diving into studies and supporting their conclusions by defining real-life examples, Tough convincingly argues that classroom climate is what needs changed in order to shape students' experiences. While advocating for transformation to a broken system that could turn disadvantaged kids' lives around, the author also acknowledges the small things that make a difference. Tough calls upon individuals to make those small steps and shows that by looking through a different lens it is possible to see how education can be better structured for the future. VERDICT For readers concerned with finding practical ways to engage with and improve education for those children with the most to lose.—Rachel Wadham, Brigham Young Univ. Libs., Provo, UT
Kirkus Reviews
Straightforward advice on how to help children overcome adversity at home and in school.In this sequel to How Children Succeed (2012), Tough moves beyond the question of why children from affluent families fare better than those who grow up in poverty. The author discusses the ways in which parents, teachers, and other adults can help children succeed despite their backgrounds. Poor health, neglect, abuse, and deficiencies in early cognitive stimulation are just a few of the reasons why children fail to thrive. Backed by his intensive research, Tough outlines many simple and effective methods currently in use at day care centers, preschools, and schools that counteract the effects of an environment that is unstable, chaotic, and unpredictable. Beginning with infancy, children need positive face-to-face time with their parents. Strong bonding between parents and child before age 1 enables the child to learn that his or her environment is safe. Once a stable home life is established, children can then enter the school system, where they need to encounter teachers who have positive attitudes, work toward establishing strong relationships, and truly enjoy teaching in a creative manner. "In the same way that responsive parenting in early childhood creates a kind of mental space where a child's first tentative steps toward intellectual learning can take place," writes the author, "so do the right kind of messages from teachers in school create a mental space that allows a student to engage in more advanced and demanding academic learning." By helping children be engaged in learning that, even when challenging, is meaningful, informative, and fun, children drop their fight-or-flight stress responses and perform better on all levels: academically, socially, and emotionally. Tough's research demonstrates that all children have the capacity for self-control, grit, and success if given the right tools to work with from birth. Informative and effective methods to help children overcome issues and thrive at home and in school.
From the Publisher
"[Helping Children Succeed] includes descriptions of relevant studies, interviews, and examples, all of which the author conveys in a warm tone brimming with curiosity that carries listeners along and strengthens his points." ---AudioFile

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author

Paul Tough's last book was How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, which spent more than a year on the New York Times bestseller lists and was translated into twenty-seven languages. He is also the author of Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada's Quest to Change Harlem and America.

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