To Help Kids Thrive, Coach Their Parents
The intervention that made the big difference in the children’s lives, as it turned out, wasn’t the added nutrition; it was the encouragement to the parents to play. The children whose parents were counseled to play more with them did better, throughout childhood, on tests of I.Q., aggressive behavior and self-control. Today, as adults, they earn an average of 25 percent more per year than the subjects whose parents didn’t receive home visits.
These positive influences in children’s early lives can have a profound effect on the development of what are sometimes called noncognitive skills. In our current education debates, these skills are often talked about in morally freighted terms: as expressions of deep-rooted character, of grit and fortitude.