Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Nick Kristof on Parenting, Paul Tough on How Children Succeed

Nick Kristof with an important op ed:

So, could the human version of licking and grooming — hugging and kissing babies, and reading to them — fortify our offspring and even our society as well?

One University of Minnesota study that began in the 1970s followed 267 children of first-time low-income mothers for nearly four decades. It found that whether a child received supportive parenting in the first few years of life was at least as good a predictor as I.Q. of whether he or she would graduate from high school.

This may illuminate one way that poverty replicates itself from generation to generation. Children in poor households grow up under constant stress, disproportionately raised by young, single mothers also under tremendous stress, and the result may be brain architecture that makes it harder for the children to thrive at school or succeed in the work force.

Yet the cycle can be broken, and the implication is that the most cost-effective way to address poverty isn’t necessarily housing vouchers or welfare initiatives or prison-building. Rather, it may be early childhood education and parenting programs.

Scholars like James Heckman of the University of Chicago and Dr. Jack Shonkoff of Harvard have pioneered this field, and decades of fascinating research is now wonderfully assembled in Paul Tough’s important new book, “How Children Succeed.” Long may this book dwell on the best-seller lists!

Speaking of Paul Tough and his book, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character (www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0547564651/tilsoncapitalpar), he came to a KIPP event last Friday – here’s a picture of us:

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