Yay! A Program That Helps Kids Behave Better -- And Do Better -- in School

A program to help kids manage their behavior has also had another astounding result.  The kids do better in their academic subjects too. 

According to newswise.com, a program aimed at reducing behavior problems in order to boost academic achievement has improved performance in math and reading among low-income kindergartners and first graders, according to a study by researchers at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.

“Supporting young low-income children so they can reach their potential in the classroom and beyond is of vital importance,” the Web site quotes Sandee McClowry, a professor in NYU Steinhardt’s Department of Applied Psychology and the study’s senior author. “Our findings show that learning is enhanced when it also addresses the social and emotional development of children.”

Duh.  But how many programs out there do this?

"Previous scholarship has shown that growing up in poverty significantly increases the likelihood that children will begin school well behind their more economically advantaged peers," newswise.com reports. Moreover, other research has revealed that children from poor families often start school with inadequate social-emotional skills, which can stymie academic progress. The impact of these phenomena is particularly felt in pre-kindergarten through third grade.

My son in middle school had a friend who had major behavior problems.  He'd stand up and sing in honors math, or stroll through the classroom, picking up papers off kids' desks.  Security was constantly called, when what this kid needed was love and attention.

He has since been moved to a school for kids with problems like his, and with the law, but I can't help thinking, where is this talented boy going from here?  Here's someone who could find a cure for cancer, if he were just guided right.  But in his family, where poverty and substance abuse go hand-in-hand, that's never going to happen.  He's not a bad kid, just someone who needs direction and nurture.  What if he'd had a program like this to set him on the right road?

Sadly, for this young man, there wasn't.  But what a bonus for the kids who do.  Children in this program were part of INSIGHTS Into Children’s Temperament, which provides teachers and parents with a framework for appreciating and supporting differences in the personalities of children.

“These results indicate that INSIGHTS supports young children’s development of self-regulatory skills that are vital to learning, such as sustained attention span and curbing inappropriate behaviors,” says Erin O’Connor, an associate professor in NYU’s Department of Teaching and Learning, and one of the study's authors. “The findings, combined with previous research in this area, show that programs of this nature can enhance low-income children’s self-regulation skills and, with it, enhance their academic achievement in early elementary school.”


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