(Paul) Tough Love: Author challenges traditional tools for success, reveals the hidden power of quality family child care

ImageOctober is poised to be a busy month for All Our Kin, with many exciting events and opportunities for family child care providers, staff, and friends of All Our Kin alike.  On the immediate horizon are our Bridgeport Launch Party and Kinship in New Haven benefit events, two occasions I’m particularly looking forward to because acclaimed writer Paul Tough will be speaking at them.

In his new book, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, Tough makes the case that social and emotional skills, such as self-regulation and persistence, are key factors for children’s success in school and beyond.  Through a series of interconnected anecdotes and interviews, and the use of decades of research that spans multiple disciplines, Tough illustrates how equipping children with character skills such as perseverance, optimism, and self-control can make all the difference to a child’s later success or failure. Central to Tough’s message is the role that caregivers, teachers, and entire communities can play in actively developing character traits in their children.

An especially compelling example Tough uses is that of the “Perry Preschool Project” in Ypsilanti, Michigan.  “…Something important had happened to them in preschool, and whatever it was, the positive effects resonated for decades,” he writes of the dramatic impact that a high-quality child care program had on the development of children’s behavioral and social skills.

It is encouraging to see Tough’s work affirm the critical importance of early child care, a value that fuels our work at All Our Kin.  Tough is not alone in his findings, though.  The National Scientific Council on the Developing Child has found that “the quality of a child’s early environment and the availability of appropriate experiences” permanently impacts the very formation of the brain and determines a child’s ability “to think and to regulate emotions” throughout her life.

When I consider the hugely transformative power of a child’s early years, and their profound effects on brain development and character, I realize what a significant responsibility our family child care providers have to children and to society.  They are not merely babysitters who ensure the physical safety of their children.  Rather, they are the earliest molders and shapers of our future generations.  Their actions do not determine only how a child’s day will go, but also how a child’s future may go.  For these reasons, I am extremely proud of the hundreds of family child care providers who, for the sake of the children they care for, come to All Our Kin and learn the best practices in early childhood education.  Our providers exhibit the very grit, curiosity, and optimism that Paul Tough touts in his new book, leading me to believe they will surely be successful at becoming superb early childhood educators.  I am awed by their dedication to building a future generation that is able, prepared, and eager to embrace a life of learning and success.

To learn more about our upcoming events featuring Tough, please click here.

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