News & Blog

What Does it Take to Raise a Successful Child?

Posted on January 29th, 2016

I send out a weekly update to the Lower School staff.  This update includes a calendar with the daily activities, events, and duty assignments so that teachers have a convenient and accessible overview of the week.  I also place the school’s mission statement on the calendar.

I want the mission statement to be a regular reminder of our collective purpose and encourage us to sustain a school where all students can be successful. As educators and parents, we are working together to fulfill the mission for each and every child.  We all want to raise our children to be responsible, independent, well educated, caring, and confident.  But sometimes, as parents, our lives get so busy we become frustrated or overwhelmed. We struggle with making the most of each day. We’re given mixed messages regarding the impact of technology on our children. The daily news isn’t always helpful or encouraging. We sometimes wonder if we have the skills to raise happy and well-adjusted children.

Recently, I came across an engaging and thoughtful article written by Harvard psychologists, who have been studying what it takes to raise “good” kids.  They came up with six tips. I want to reflect on three of the tips, but I will provide you with a link at the end of this post so that you can read the full article at your convenience:

1. Hang out with your kids. We may feel discouraged and think we are not spending enough time with our children, but according to Pew Research, the amount of time parents spend with their children continues to go up. Fathers have nearly tripled their time with children since 1965. Mothers’ time with children has also increased, and today’s mothers spend more time with their children than mothers did in the 1960s. This is good news and should encourage us to find more quality opportunities to be with those we love.

2. Make helpfulness and gratitude routine. The researchers write, "Studies show that people who engage in the habit of expressing gratitude are more likely to be helpful, generous, compassionate, and forgiving.” On a daily basis, our students are given opportunities to show kindness, demonstrate respect and treat others the way they want to be treated.

3. Show your kids the bigger picture. "Almost all children empathize with and care about a small circle of families and friends," say the researchers. The trick is getting them to care about people who are socially, culturally, and even geographically outside their circles. Our focus on service learning helps our students grow in empathy and provides practical and engaging age-appropriate activities to help those in need.   

These tips aren’t rocket science. Raising responsible, caring, and confident children is possible but at times challenging and overwhelming. The Harvard study concluded with this thought: "Raising a caring, respectful, ethical child is and always has been hard work. But it's something all of us can do. And no work is more important or ultimately more rewarding.” One of the strengths of the GSL community is our ability to join together as an extended family to create a culture where children can be successful.  Let us continue to live out our mission and prepare children for a better tomorrow.

Click here to view the complete article.


Tom Sauter
Head of Lower School


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