Got Grit?


Two pieces came across my screen this morning – one a piece on NPR and one from Child Care Exchange. Both spoke to how we raise and educate children in school and at home. In the Child Care Exchange piece, “Dr. Eberhard says Sweden’s child-centric model has gone ‘too far’ and suggests the oversensitivity to children and reluctance to discipline has bred a nation of “ouppfostrade,” which loosely translates to “badly raised kids.” He suggests that all this “kowtowing” to kids will create depression and more anxiety for children in the future.

The NPR piece asks: Is it good enough to be smart? Are “grittier” children who try harder better off? In this piece it’s all about the growth mindset. They purport that struggle is a normal part of learning –  and the focus should be on effort not answers. Raising children to try harder is ultimately a skill they can use later in life that will be more advantageous to them than just being smart.

The piece talks about a school in Brooklyn, not for smart kids but for kids with “grit”. This school acknowledges students for effort, perseverance and resilience. It’s not about knowing the answer or having the knowledge, it is about being able to figure out how to get the answer, how to obtain the knowledge. The children are allowed time to figure out the answer – it’s not competitive hand raising and grade achievement. Not only do the teachers recognize and acknowledge for it but the kids assess each other on how well they tried to master a new skill or solve a problem. I liked the aspect where children saw the perseverance of their peers and acknowledged them for it in meeting. This thinking about the effort and success of others reinforces empathy and understanding between people. Imagine if in your workplace, your peers saw how hard you tried and acknowledged you for it. How good would that feel, whether you succeeded or not?

Here’s a  great question end of day question for families: Who really worked hard today to overcome obstacles and challenges? Did you? Tell me about it.  And adults should share their grittiness, too, because skill building of any kind to be successful must be reinforced in and outside of school by all the charismatic adults in a child’s life.

Author: Gail Ader

Early childhood education is my passion and I have worked in this field since 1998, first as a teacher and then as an administrator. Child centered learning in a supportive and developmentally appropriate setting is the key to high quality programs. As the Executive Director at the Cooperative Learning Community my focus is on supporting my team so that they can focus on their children and families.