Wednesday, February 27, 2013

40 Things Kids Need

Some children grow up to become successful, thriving, contributing adults in our communities. Other kids seem to struggle all through childhood, and some continue that struggle into their adult lives. Why is this true? Is it just a matter of chance? Genetics? Happy or difficult circumstances?

What elements in your child’s life will help him or her grow up to be a thriving, caring, successful, responsible adult? Can we parents help to create an environment for our children that will be much more likely to result in successful outcomes? What tools are available to help us do that?

Since 1989, the Search Institute has been conducting research to answer these questions, and from that research has put together a list of 40 “Developmental Assets.” These 40 elements, when present in a child’s life, contribute in powerful ways to healthy adulthood. The basic idea is the more of these "Assets" a child has available as they grow up, the more likely they will be to experience a holistically healthy childhood, and the more likely in turn that they will be positioned for success as an adult as well.

There are 40 elements for each of four age levels: early childhood, grades K-3, middle childhood, and adolescence. The lists are further divided into external and internal assets: things that surround the child and provide support, as well as internal qualities that kids can develop that will serve them well. The good news is that these Assets can all be cultivated, and though family circumstances may make it easier or harder to surround our children with these elements or to help them develop these inward qualities, the vast majority of the Assets can be developed regardless or even in spite of challenges that families face.

For example, let's examine just the Assets from the adolescent External Assets list, under the subheading "Support." There are six of them:

  1. Family Support | Family life provides high levels of love and support.
  2. Positive Family Communication | Young person and her or his parent(s) communicate positively, and young person is willing to seek advice and counsel from parents.
  3. Other Adult Relationships | Young person receives support from three or more non-parent adults.
  4. Caring Neighborhood | Young person experiences caring neighbors.
  5. Caring School Climate | School provides a caring, encouraging environment.
  6. Parent Involvement in Schooling | Parent(s) are actively involved in helping the child succeed in school.
Give a few moments thought to each of these.  Regardless of life's circumstances, parents can begin to look for ways to cultivate each of these elements on behalf of each child. Narrow down just to number three, for a moment.  What other adults do your children know who help them and encourage them?  If you feel this asset needs to be more developed in your children's lives, begin to look at the various places around our community where your child could develop meaningful adult relationships.  School, church, places of business, and clubs are all likely possibilities.  If it isn't happening naturally, seek it out by asking some adults you trust to help you invest in your child.

One of the great things about the Search Institute's website is that for each asset there is a link suggesting ways in which parents can help cultivate these strengths in the lives of their children.  We're not left to try to increase our children's asset strength on our own; the Institute has many helpful  ideas  and resources for further growth and progress.
To continue to explore the 40 Developmental Assets and resources available to parents, please click on the link below.  All information in this article about the 40 Developmental Assets - the 40 things kids need - comes from the Search Institute and the Search Institute's website at  To see the lists of Assets, click on the "What Kids Need" tab, and select "Developmental Assets."  As you begin to explore the website, you'll see the wide range of ideas and resources available for parents and others who work with our children.

It's really not by chance or luck that some children have an easier time growing up and finding their place as adults.  According to the Search Institute's research, successful adulthood begins with helping our children develop the assets they need to progress to adulthood in healthy ways.  The good news for all parents is that these assets are things that we can intentionally seek to pursue for the sake of our children.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Among Other Things, Combatting "Affluenza"

The following article is reprinted by permission of the Association of Christian Schools International, an international group of thousands of Christian schools of which DPCA is proud to be a member.  The article is from ACSI's Christian School Comment 44.6., written by ACSI's acting president Dan Egeler.  Christian School Comment is published periodically by the Association as a resource to help parents and Christian schools stay focused on teaching and practicing biblical perspectives. 

Spiritual Formation in an Age of Entitlement

During a discussion with Josh McDowell a few years ago about unbiblical values, he proposed a provocative idea for an elective course for Christian schools. What if we taught students to identify the top 10 cultural lies being taught by American culture and then equipped students with the skills to debunk those lies? [Mr. R's note: we do something very much along these lines in Philosophy and Culture class.] One lie I would identify in American cultural is the primacy of comfort and wealth. In The Overload Syndrome (1998, 43), Dr. Richard Swenson says the new American dream is "more possessions-more quickly"; and because most of us are already saturated with abundance, this is a problem.

I believe that this value system has also infected our Christian schools; it is an insidious threat to the healthy spiritual formation of our young people. Too often, those held in high esteem are people who have succeeded in terms of comfort and wealth. It's not that comfort and wealth are inherently bad, but a person's wealth should be of far less importance than his or her character. The book of James has a lot to say about judging a person on the basis of outward appearance. Why do our Christian kids want to grow up to be like our cynical and ungodly celebrity musicians, athletes, or even businesspeople rather than like the godly janitor, educator, or neighborhood pastor? The reason is that we live in a celebrity culture that values comfort, wealth, and image.

One of the negative by-products of a focus on comfort and wealth is the disease of "affluenza." The authors of the book Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic define affluenza as "a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, debt, anxiety, and waste resulting from the dogged pursuit of 'more' " (De Graaf, Wann, and Naylor 2005, 2). By any economic indicator, our American Christian families are the wealthiest in recent history, and our kids have become infected with this disease. Affluenza's costs and consequences are immense, although often concealed. Untreated, the disease can cause permanent discontent. This discontent leads to a sense of entitlement-and the accompanying rejection of self-discipline, a deep repugnance for delayed gratification, and the embracing of self-indulgence.

The fallout is that indulged children are often less able to cope with stress in an increasingly complex world because their parents have created an atmosphere in which the children's every whim is indulged, and the children then believe that they are entitled to a life of comfort and wealth. This indulgence promotes a lack of frustration tolerance and produces an inability in children to persevere in the face of difficulties.

How do we, as parents, combat affluenza? One way is to teach children to persevere and not to accept the option of quitting. Athletics is one arena in which children can learn those characteristics. My second son wrestled during high school, and he competed in a number of topflight wrestling tournaments. For the first two-thirds of the season, he did not win a match, and he was being pinned consistently in the first period. He was competing against nationally ranked wrestlers; I helped him set some realistic goals. The first goal was just to make it through a match without getting pinned. This goal wasn't very glamorous-he ended up spending six grueling minutes fighting while on his back. I celebrated the first match in which he did not score a point and was beaten badly but did not get pinned. He learned to persevere, and that lesson was far more important than what he could have learned from winning. The sport of wrestling was one of the few avenues I had to teach my son the importance of learning to persevere.

A second way to teach our children to combat affluenza and pursue Christian character is through gratitude. In his book Cultivating Christian Character, Dr. Michael Zigarelli writes, "Growing one's gratitude has a radical and transformational effect on character, because gratitude is one of God's primary vehicles for inducing other Christian qualities" (2005, 27).

Both Christian schools and parents have a considerable task before them if they're going to be serious about fostering spiritual growth. We need to help our kids
  • resist the consumptive lifestyle
  • identify and counter the cultural lie that wealth is the measure of a person
  • cultivate a heart of gratitude
  • learn to persevere-never to accept the option of quitting
  • become self-disciplined-embrace and celebrate delayed gratification
  • overcome the temptation of self-indulgence
As Christian parents, we should not just throw up our hands and accept the way our culture is, deciding we can't do anything about it. We can raise young people of great character who have the skills they need to debunk cultural lies.

Daniel J. Egeler
Acting President
De Graaf, John, David Wann, and Thomas H. Naylor. 2005. Affluenza: The allconsuming epidemic. 2nd ed. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
Swenson, Richard. 1998. The Overload Syndrome: Learning to live within your limits. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress.
Zigarelli, Michael A. 2005. Cultivating Christian character: How to become the person God wants you to be and how to help others do the same. Colorado Springs, CO: Purposeful Design Publications.

Friday, February 15, 2013

100 Days of Kindergarten!

 by Amy Montera

On February 4th, the Kindergarteners celebrated 100 days of school!  Can you believe it? The time has gone by so quickly!

One of my favorite things about this day was our “100 Reasons to be Thankful!”  This was a project that began on the 1st day of school.  The kids took turns sharing what they were thankful for each day.  By day 100, we had collected 100 cards with a wide variety of notable blessings.  Let me mention a few that bring a smile to my face: “That I get to come to school,” “For all God did for us,” “My family and friends,” “That I am starting to read books,” “For all God created,” and “Racecars!” :)  This display will remain in the hall for the remainder of the year, so please drop by to see it.

Something else we had on display for this special day was our 100 day projects.  The kids each brought in 100 items of their choice.  We had food items, Legos, pennies, magnets, rocks, and blocks.  This was a creative way to practice our counting skills.

Our snack consisted of 100 unique trail mix items (10 pieces of 10 different items).  I think the marshmallows were the biggest hit!

To end our 100 day celebration, we had a 100 piece puzzle contest.  Each team consisted of 3 contestants with a goal to be the first to complete their animal puzzle.  The prize for the winners was 100 cents (given as a $1 bill)! 

We are so thankful to God for 100 days of school, and we can’t wait to see all that we will accomplish by the end of Kindergarten!