Reflections on Asset Building in our Kids

 

By Anna-Maria W., Parent of Terrific Turtle Sovin

“Today’s children and teenagers need you in their lives.”

For a number of years now I have opened every session of the Project Cornerstone “Take it Personally ” class with these words, the introductory phrase from the workbook we use to guide our discussions. These words sum up the purpose of meeting as a group over five weeks.

Just this last month, I facilitated my final class at Village and with complete confidence and sincere excitement have passed on this role on the Parent Education team to Jeeryn Dang, who will bring her own wisdom and enthusiasm to facilitating the class in the future. I thank all of you with whom I have had the chance to share, reflect and learn from as we delved into understanding our own childhood and young adult life and the importance of the “developmental assets”: those positive relationships, experiences, opportunities and values young people need to thrive into adulthood.

I now embark on the journey of parenting not one but two middle schoolers and future high schoolers who will continue to need the presence of caring teachers and adults in their lives. They will naturally pull away from us parents at this time of their lives in order to more deeply know themselves and connect with their peers. It will be tempting to take this personally, but all the years of Positive Discipline and Cornerstone exposure will hopefully guide me into seeing things differently.

Our children are growing up during an explosion of research on the brain, propelling us forward in understanding the uniqueness of the teenager and young adult. Just at a time when they seem harder to be around, young people are needing even more understanding, empathy and subtle guidance from adults in order to develop a strong sense of their own power, purpose, worth and promise.  We are learning that the teenage brain is not an adult brain with ‘fewer miles on it’, as scientists believed for many years, but a unique time of neural connectivity and brain plasticity. Simultaneously, teenagers are more susceptible to stressors and addictive tendencies than we ever understood.

With this deeper knowledge (read “The Teenage Brain: a Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults” by Frances Jensen), we adults become all the more important in young people’s lives. The words “today’s children and teenagers need you in their lives” take on a more profound and urgent calling.

I am thankful for the many adults in my children’s lives and those of all Village kids. I also know many kids are not that fortunate. If in all these years the “Take it Personally” class has encouraged one more adult to stay present and find ways to bring out the best in children and teenagers with more intent and commitment, whether now or in the future, it will all have been worth it. Remember, is not necessary to know, be and do everything right away or all the time. Taking simple steps, like smiling at youth, and continuously building on these steps will help sustain you. I hope I have been a part of this spark developed in you for more deeply appreciating and committing to our youth, whether today or decades from now.

Smile on!

 

By Jeeryn D., Parent of Dazzling Dragon Annalee

It has been years since I thought about my fifth grade teacher Mr. Goltzer.  Little did I know it at the time, but he was the person who taught me that females can be just as good as males in both athletics and in academics. Outside of P.E. he set aside time for our class to play basketball.  We learned about good sportsmanship, but more importantly, I learned that I had power over my own actions. If we won, it was because we worked together as a team. If we lost, we would try again next time and high-five the other team for a job well done. Mr. Goltzer was an asset builder.

I was fortunate enough to be able to take the Project Cornerstone “Take it Personally” class this year with Anna-Maria White, both as a student and as a co-facilitator. Honestly, I learned more about myself and the adults that shaped my life than I may have been ready to learn. That is a different story. I walked away from both of the classes armed with tools and the mindset to act intentionally in being an asset builder for not only my kids, but also youth in our community in general. Through self-reflection and class exercises, I learned the importance of having positive adult role models, and how important it is to have them throughout childhood and early adulthood. Moreover, I learned that our school and surrounding community is full of asset builders!

I am thrilled and excited for the opportunity to be able to continue learning, growing and facilitating the Cornerstone classes for our community. Anna-Maria has been such a beacon of community and support during her years here at Village School, and I am so honored to be able to carry on.

 
 
 


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