“What is it about growing up in poverty that leads to so many troubling outcomes? Or to put the question another way, what is it that growing up in influence provides to children that growing up in poverty does not?” This is the question that today’s guest, author Paul Tough, poses in his newest book, “Helping Children Succeed: What Works and Why.” It is a data driven book about how young kids are growing and developing in today’s world. 51% of children in the public school system are below the low income bar set by the government. Paul goes through the psychological issues of children from low income homes starting from birth all the way through high school. Science is very clear that children develop the most during the first three years of their life. He says there are two main things to think about when children are developing: stress, and day-to-day interaction with parents or caregivers. Paul gives examples of the types of stress and interaction that is good and bad during early childhood. Paul talks about the education system next. He says that development should be looked at as on a continuum rather than separated into segments such as preschool, kindergarten, and so forth. Michael and Paul also speak to the behavioral issues that may come from different socioeconomic backgrounds and what schools can do to improve the outcome of a child. “Grit” and curiosity needs to be taught and encouraged along with standard learning, in and out of the classroom. Intervening more intensely in the first few years is a huge way of creating this motivation and curiosity. Michael brings up the higher income children who also are having trouble finding “grit and perseverance”. Paul says we aren’t giving children the opportunity to struggle with adversity. The difference between not having grit in a higher income family as opposed to low income is that you can usually get by in life. You can usually find an average job and have food on the table. However, not having drive coming from a low income family, you may not be able to put food on the table and have a roof over your head.
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