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What Constitutes Success

I was overjoyed to have a group of parents from across all divisions attend my presentation on what school success means and how to address the many barriers to success that our children and teens face today. I began our conversation with the question, “What constitutes success for your child(ren)?” Hearing parents choose the words and phrases such as ‘persevering, independent, confident, happy, resilient, self-reliant, sociable, problem-solver, sound decision-maker, empathetic, accountable, and team worker’, was thrilling to me because each of those represents a much broader definition of success and falls under Dr. Cushman’s Philosophy. While the academics are a required, important foundation, we never underestimate the power of the implementation of Dr. Cushman’s philosophy. As a result, these are our intended goals within Cushman’s curriculum and a deliberate undertaking that we take seriously. 

We believe that every child should be valued for his or her own interests, talents, and unique path to success. However, with the current overemphasis on grades, test scores, and selective college admissions, many in other schools forget that their children are not numbers. At Cushman, I know that we all feel differently because we remain attuned to the most current research about healthy child and teen development and how to safeguard against distractions to that end. 

According to neuroscience research out of Stanford University and Harvard University, some of the key factors leading to children’s emotional well-being and success lie in the simple, yet powerful facts: 

1. Happiness and positive thinking are precursors and drivers of success. 

2. Limited media will increase physical activity and time with the family and increase the ‘delay of gratification.’ 

3. Eating meals with your children reduces their stress and offers protection against depressive symptoms, dangerous disordered eating behaviors and substance abuse in adolescence, especially with girls, and it increases impulse control. It also increases communication among family members and the understanding of family values. 

4. Lack of sleep results in overall impairment, decreases motivation and performance in school, increases anxiety, inattention, emotional regulation, and retrieval of information, and reduces quality of life and mental health. 

Research also supports what Helen Keller once said, “One’s success and happiness lies in oneself. Resolve to keep happy, and one’s joy and oneself shall form an invincible host against difficulties.” 

Sharing the current research and engaging in critical conversations united our thoughts, efforts and hearts as we continue to raise your children together. Thank you for joining me. 

The presentation will be posted within each of your Parent Portals.

– Arvi Balseiro

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