CM . . .
. Volume VIII Number 19 . . . . May 24, 2002
Kuitenbrouwer interviewed 22 students ages 7-12, and itemized 7 secrets of children who were successful students. The secrets, that are no surprise, include: choosing a good role model, being organized, making the most of what you have got, sticking with it and trying your hardest, not being afraid of trying new things, being a loyal friend and being a team player. The author found that success outside of school most often goes hand in hand with success at school. The children interviewed were successful at both, even though their outside interests were what interested the interviewer in the beginning. Watching great amounts of television was not one of the activities that any of the students interviewed were allowed or allowed themselves - an interesting point, but not a revelation.
The children came from varied backgrounds and settings. It did not matter whether they were rich or poor or if they lived in a small town or in the core area of a large city, the students were successful if any of the seven secrets were incorporated into their lives. In reading the case histories, I found that the students had more than one of the seven secrets and often all of them to help them be successful. One of the main messages that I think the author is trying to send is that, if parents and grandparents as the main caregivers, are supportive and encouraging, children will flourish. For example, a native student with fetal alcohol syndrome made the most of what he had in learning to speak, and, with determination and support from his community and grandparents, his legal guardians, he achieved far beyond expectations in and out of school. By Grade 5, he was able to equal his peers and often surpass many of them in spelling, reading comprehension and math. He continues to have problems holding a pencil but he often helps his classmates with a computer game. With any of the seven secrets evident in their lives, the children interviewed in the book always had a positive attitude towards everything they did.
I would recommend this book to teachers, but especially to parents and caregivers. It shows, with a great deal of evidence, that children will have a positive attitude and will achieve their potential with support and encouragement from their parents, grandparents and alternate caregivers. As teachers, our job is to be a good model in showing students that using the seven strategies or "secrets" helps them to succeed in all facets of their lives in and out of school.
Evans, a retired teacher, is now an instructor of Social Studies at
both the University of Manitoba and the University of Winnipeg.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.