CHICAGO -- In his new book, “Helping Children Succeed: What Works and Why,” journalist Paul Tough investigates the challenge of educating low-income children, who now account for more than half of all public school students.
Tough walks readers through a list of potential interventions—at home, in communities and at school—to help children who lack well-organized, responsive parenting and nourishing relationships.
Without the secure emotional base that a stable and calm home life can provide, countless research has concluded, children aren’t able to develop the noncognitive skills—such as social skills, self-regulation and persistence—that make for successful academic progress.
Tough profiles several innovative community and home-based programs that help under-resourced parents understand and model behaviors such as patience, empathy and a high-interaction style of communication. These help develop and strengthen young children’s neural connections in the brain between the regions that control emotion, cognition, language and memory.
But probably the most scalable of the interventions Tough outlines are those that can happen in individual classrooms, by teachers who can execute on two distinct and important fronts: