Your Child's Strengths: Discover Them, Develop Them, Use Them


An essential book for parents and teachers that explores how children's individual strengths create success

With this groundbreaking work, educator Jenifer Fox is poised to change the conversation about education in this country. For too long, parents and teachers have focused on identifying and “fixing” kids' weaknesses to improve academic performance. Passionately written and informed by Fox's twenty-five years of experience, Your Child's Strengths turns that flawed paradigm ...

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An essential book for parents and teachers that explores how children's individual strengths create success

With this groundbreaking work, educator Jenifer Fox is poised to change the conversation about education in this country. For too long, parents and teachers have focused on identifying and “fixing” kids' weaknesses to improve academic performance. Passionately written and informed by Fox's twenty-five years of experience, Your Child's Strengths turns that flawed paradigm on its head. Fox's strengths-based philosophy provides the tools to prepare kids for the future in a world that demands greater adaptability and creative thinking than ever before.

Your Child's Strengths will give parents and teachers the tools to discover strengths in three main areas: Activity Strengths, the tasks that make you feel engaged and energized; Relationship Strengths, the things you do for and with others that make you feel valued and competent; and Learning Strengths, the unique ways we approachand understand new information. All three strengths work in tandem.

Pairing inspiring firsthand accounts of success with practical workbook tools and an outline of the award- winning Affinities Program Fox has implemented at her own school, this much- needed book is a user- friendly guide for parents, teachers, and administrators that will improve individual performance and an indispensable road map for young people and society to a future that plays to strengths.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Prominent educator Jenifer Fox counsels parents to think positively. She deplores schools where students are treated as defective learning engines waiting to be fixed. In this book, she describes a strengths-based teaching philosophy that bolsters self-esteem, creativity, and adaptability. She identifies three essential dimensions of this mastery: activity strengths, relationship strengths, and learning strengths.
Michael Riera
Your Child's Strengths puts in plain view what has been in front of us all along – that education and character development always do best to first identify and deepen strengths, rather than to first (and too often exclusively) focus on deficit and weaknesses. Fox's approach is more interesting, more effective, and ultimately more humane. (Michael Riera, author of Staying Connected to Your Teenager: How to Keep Them Talking to You, and How To Hear What They're Really Saying)
Christopher Peterson
Jenifer Fox has vision, passion, intelligence, and experience. All show in Your Child's Strengths, which contains a wealth of practical ideas for parents and educators who want to encourage among children the strengths that make possible the good life. (Christopher Peterson, Professor of Psychology, University of Michigan and author of A Primer in Positive Psychology)
Patrick F. Bassett
Your Child's Strengths is a tonic for the regret one feels for all the children burdened by schools and a world preoccupied by weaknesses rather than strengths. Countless compelling stories illustrate vividly the theme, that focusing on children's strengths is the roadmap for all parents and teachers to give what we want inherently wish to provide: a means for children to find their own path. The Strengths Inventory and Affinities Program curriculum in the Appendix offer a remarkably practical means to start down the path and are worth a read by themselves, but then you would miss the journey of revelation the book evokes. (Patrick F. Bassett, President, National Association of Independent Schools)
Edward Hallowell
This is a brilliant, innovative, enormously practical, and hugely important work. Where positive psychology and strength-based philosophies usually stumble, this book soars, namely, in practical application. If teachers and parents would all read this and implement its suggestions, our broken educational system would be fixed in no time. Truly, this book could change the world. (Edward Hallowell, M.D. author of Driven to Distraction: Recognizing and Coping with Attention Deficit Disorder from Childhood to Adulthood and Delivered from Distraction: Getting the Most out of Life with Attention Deficit Disorder)
Dan Kindlon
Your Child's Strengths contains clear, interesting, step-by-step techniques for identifying and utilizing children's cognitive and emotional strengths - an excellent starting point for any parent, teacher, or student who wants to take the more effective step of focusing on assets rather than liabilities. The wisdom contained in this remarkable volume will be a godsend, not only for those who are just beginning to try to understand a child's learning style but also for those already battered by a misguided an educational system. (Dan Kindlon, Ph.D., co-author of Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys )
Jonathan Mooney
When I was labeled ‘learning disabled,' the educational system tried everything to fix me, from giving me purple-colored reading glasses to putting me through hundreds of hours of remediation. Through all these efforts to fix what was supposedly wrong with me, my strengths, gifts, and talents were not simply neglected or ignored, but negated. Jenifer Fox has taken a groundbreaking and important stand against the standardized deficit and remediation education that dominates the lives of millions of students. Philosophical yet extremely practical, innovative yet grounded in solid research on effective pedagogy, Your Child's Strengths is a must read for any student, parent and educator. (Jonathan Mooney author of The Short Bus: A Journey Beyond Normal and Learning Outside the Lines)
Children's Literature - Paula McMillen
There is never any question that this author is an advocate for kids, teens, and, when it comes right down to it, for adults. She believes schools, and society in general, focus too much on identifying and trying to "fix" deficits rather than helping children, teens, and adults identify and optimize their strengths. The book is divided into three parts: "The Weakness Habit," "A Strengths Awakening," and "Create Your Future, Play to Your Strengths Workbook." Author Fox, a school principal, argues the pressing need today and in the future for people who can adapt and innovate, be creative, and flexible; she asserts that people who have a clear idea of their strengths—in activities, in relationships, and in learning—are the ones who can fill the bill. Her intention is to offer guidance for parents and teachers in helping children discover their strengths so they can become fulfilled and vital adults. Short case narratives are liberally sprinkled through the text, illustrating Fox's strengths-focused approach when working with "problem" students over the years. She provides very detailed workbook activities and inventories in the final third and appendices of the book to help parents, teachers, and children/teens develop their observation and reflection skills so they can begin to identify their strengths. Focusing on strengths is a habit of mind that must be cultivated consistently over a period of time, and the author offers realistic options for working with kids at different ages based on their cognitive development levels. Although this is clearly a book targeted for general readership, it is nevertheless frustrating that sources of claims and statistics are not consistentlyidentified. In the positive column, the book offers a good index and an extensive list of resources in addition to all the other practical guidance already discussed. Anyone who has grown weary of teaching to the test and trying to fit all children into an inflexible educational machine will surely resonate with this approach. Reviewer: Paula McMillen, Ph.D.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670018765
  • Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/28/2008
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Jenifer Fox, Med has worked in day and boarding schools, single sex and coed schools, as a teacher and administrator for twenty-five years. She is currently head of the Purnell School in Pottersville, New Jersey. She holds a BS in communications from the University of Wisconsin— Madison, an MA in English from Middlebury College, and an MEd in school administration from Harvard University.

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Table of Contents

Foreword     ix
Preface     xiii
Introduction     1
The Weakness Habit     5
The Face of Weakness     7
Standardization and the Weakening of the Individual     29
The High Cost of a Brand-Name College     37
Learning Disabilities for Dummies     46
The Myth of Adolescent Rebellion     60
A Strengths Awakening     69
Your Three Types of Strengths     74
Setting the Stage for Discovery and Development     96
Strengths are for Younger Kids, Too     119
Barriers and Bridges: Making the Strengths Life Possible     138
This Approach is for Life     154
Create Your Future, Play to Your Strengths Workbook     161
How it Works     171
Activity Strengths     178
Relationship Strengths     196
Learning Strengths     217
Looking to the Future     232
Is This the Answer to Our Future?     236
Acknowledgments     238
My Strengths Inventory: Hat, Vest, Shoes     243
The Affinities Program     259
Resources     328
Index     335
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 3 of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2008

    Teachers Need This Book

    As a career middle school teacher, I know how challenging it can be to manage a classroom full of diverse learners. It is easy to focus on 'fixing' what is wrong with kids. What Fox does in this book is offer a practical program to build on students' strengths. She shows us how to discover them with great activities and exercises and also makes a strong case that building on student strengths lays the groundwork for students to improve their performance overall. In this age of standardization, this book provides a refreshing reminder to teachers and parents that kids are not problems to be solved but mysteries to be discovered. I, for one, am looking forward to sharing this book with the parents of kids I teach and using the exercises and ideas in it to partner with them to see our students in a new light. Great book, groundbreaking.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 18, 2007

    A reviewer

    My friend is a book distributor who received an advanced copy of this book. Knowing I am a fan of Discovering Strengths, she gave me this book to read. I feel so lucky to have been one of the first to read and review it! This book is profoundly positive and for the first time, I feel like I know what will really help our schools. The stories in this book are funny, moving and concise. The suggestions are creative, innovative and pretty easy. This book provides one of the clearest, most compelling cases for the strengths approach. I found myself reading it for my children, but soon realized I was learning about myself. There is a great workbook with some clever ideas. I think this book signals the beginning of a whole new way to approach education. I believe this work will be the catalyst for significant conversations about a new direction for education, and Jenifer Fox's voice is sure to be a major one in that conversation. She is clearly articulate, passionate and focused on having a hand changing the system.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 17, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    A Mom's Choice Award Recipient!

    Your Child's Strengths is a recipient of the prestigious Mom's Choice Award. The Mom’s Choice Awards honors excellence in family-friendly media, products and services. An esteemed panel of judges includes education, media and other experts as well as parents, children, librarians, performing artists, producers, medical and business professionals, authors, scientists and others. A sampling of the panel members includes: Dr. Twila C. Liggett, ten-time Emmy-winner, professor and founder of PBS’s Reading Rainbow; Julie Aigner-Clark, Creator of Baby Einstein and The Safe Side Project; Jodee Blanco, New York Times best-selling Author and; LeAnn Thieman, motivational speaker and coauthor of seven Chicken Soup For The Soul books. Parents and educators look for the Mom’s Choice Awards seal in selecting quality materials and products for children and families

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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