Optimism At Home and At School

  • Head's Note
Tobin Bechtel

The greatest influences on the lives of our children are both being recognized this week with Mother’s Day and Teacher Appreciation Week. Mothers are the first teachers, and children formulate their initial view about the way the world works in their interactions with their mothers. The way their immediate needs are met impacts how safe and secure they interpret the world to be. Curiosity imbues the outlook of an infant when they are given the encouragement and guidance to explore. Good experiences build on each other to create optimism.

Teachers often spend more waking hours with children than do their parents. This time together is hugely influential on the outlook children take into the world with them for the rest of their lives. The resulting theory of reality, on a spectrum of pessimism to optimism, is harder to change the older we get as we interpret our experiences through the lens of this outlook. Pessimism is not innate. Even people in hard positions in life can be optimistic, and it is our role to help our children develop optimism to create a cycle of success.

Parents and teachers working in partnership to achieve this is critical and especially so for the ages we serve at Sage Ridge. Research supports that children who develop an optimistic explanatory style and outlook experience less depression, are physically healthier and achieve more at school, on the job, and in arts, athletics and activities. To be clear, optimism is not about positive phrases or images of victory, rather it is about how we think about causes which become fundamental to our outlook and character. Our teachers inculcate optimism through providing challenges and building courage in students so that they develop the dispositions of optimism, the "can do" spirit that sees hard work leading to success.

So thank you to all our caring mothers and huge appreciation for our teachers who together make Sage Ridge a special place for our children. We invest in our children to develop the character needed to make a difference in the world. This cannot be done without the power of optimism.

PS - As our final reading for the Parent Ed, I invite all in our community to read The Optimistic Child by Dr. Martin Seligman — parents, teachers, grandparents, alums, and friends. Dr. Seligman has insightful advice based on decades of research at UPenn on how we can help our future generations develop an optimistic outlook that creates the resilience needed for a foundation to pursue success. I hope you will read this seminal work and join us on May 11 to discuss his ideas and how we can all further foster the optimistic spirit that is woven in our culture and pillars.

  • head's note
  • Holidays
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