Helping Children Succeed

By Leah Davies, M.Ed.

All children have basic needs that, if met, will facilitate success in school.

Every child needs AT LEAST ONE ADULT who is a positive role model.
Educators and other professionals can nurture this by demonstrating concern for each student, and/or by encouraging a parent, relative, or other prosocial adult to become involved in the child’s life.

Every child needs TO FEEL ACCEPTED.
Educators and other professionals can advance this by treating each child fairly and by appreciating his/her uniqueness. Provide opportunities for a child’s culture, exceptionality, or other differentiating characteristics to be acknowledged and valued.

Every child needs RECOGNITION.
Educators and other professionals can promote this by taking time to discover each child’s strengths and help him/her build on them. Furnish opportunities for children to develop skills and talents. Recognize and celebrate small accomplishments such as: running fast, getting a high grade, drawing well, playing ball, singing a song, controlling ones temper, or acting in a play. Acknowledge all successes. Share accomplishments with a parent in person, via phone, or through notes.

Every child needs A SENSE OF BELONGING.
Educators and other professionals can foster this by building a community in which everyone contributes and feels a part. Cultivate cooperation rather than competition and compassion rather than thoughtlessness. Work closely within the school and/or community to support meaningful opportunities for children to share their time, talents, and goods with others.

Every child needs TO FEEL SAFE AND SECURE.
Educators and other professionals can help a child feel protected by providing a structured, predictable environment that is free from harassment. Realize that for a child to thrive, adults in his/her life must be responsive to their needs. If abuse is present in the home, take the steps necessary to protect the child.

Every child needs SOME CONTROL over his/her environment.
Educators and other professionals can further this by sharing power with students, thus demonstrating adult interest and respect. Provide opportunities for students to make decisions regarding rules and activities.

Educators and other professionals can help children develop these by role playing and by encouraging friendships with peers through group work. Supply cross-age interaction during school. For example, have older students present programs, tutor, or lead discussions with younger children. Offer a variety of activities, organizations, clubs, and/or interest groups that foster social competence.

Every child needs TO ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY for his/her behavior.
Educators and other professionals can foster responsible choices by holding students accountable for the decisions they make. Teach decision-making skills through discussion, role playing, and by providing opportunities for children to use problem-solving skills.

Used by permission of the author, Leah Davies, and selected from the Kelly Bear website []. 12/2000

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