What is Challenge Success?
We are the Monta Vista wing of Challenge Success comprised of students, teachers, parents, and administrators. Please check out and like the Facebook page for Challenge Success for Monta Vista parents where we can continue this conversation. Challenge Success was founded by Madeline Levine, Ph.D., Jim Lobdell, M.A. and Denise Pope, Ph. D. The program is an expansion of the SOS (Stressed-Out Students) Project at Stanford University.
Why do we need Challenge Success?
Our current hyper-focus on grades, individual achievement and rote answers gets in the way of healthy emotional development and a real love of learning, and it prevents our students from acquiring the creativity and critical thinking skills that the new global economy demands. In times of uncertainty, kids need to be resilient, but we’ve knocked the resilience out of far too many kids with excessive demands and preoccupations with trivial concerns. We worry more about a grade than about a good night’s sleep. We forget the proven value of play, of time for exploration and reflection, and of meaningful contribution. Academically inclined kids end up feeling only as good as their last performance. Kids with strengths in other areas end up feeling marginalized and undervalued. (adapted from http://www.challengesuccess.org/WhyItsImportant.aspx)
Our goal is to define the success of our school as a compassionate, inclusive, and collaborative community of academically engaged and healthy learners.
Monta Vista is in the 2nd year of partnering with Challenge Success out of the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University. Here's a summary of what Challenge Success believes:
At Challenge Success we know it can be difficult to find balance and to parent in our overly competitive/winner-takes-all environment. We are here to help.
At Monta Vista, the Challenge Success team of students, staff and parents are working together to bring new ideas to our campus and help us find that balance.
Challenge Success Q&A
Q1. How did Monta Vista come to be involved with Challenge Success?
A1. In March of 2013, the PTSA hosted a parent education seminar led by Gina Morris of Stanford's Challenge Success, where they explored the meaning of “Success” . After this event, the PTSA approached the school to see if there was interest in partnering with Challenge Success. The principal, April Scott, enthusiastically supported the idea of bringing Challenge Success to Monta Vista and thus began the partnership.
Q2.What are the program goals?
A2. First, we want to support the development of a compassionate, inclusive, and collaborative community of academically engaged and healthy learners. The second goal is to foster an environment that promotes the social and emotional well being of our students while maintaining high academic standards. For more information, check out http://www.challengesuccess.org/.
Q3. Why is a program like this important?
A3. Challenge Success believes that our society has become too focused on grades, test scores, and performance, leaving little time for kids to develop the necessary skills to become resilient, ethical, and motivated learners. Challenge Success provide families and schools with the practical, research-based tools they need to create a more balanced and academically fulfilling life for kids. A program like Challenge Success can help reduce academic and emotional stress at our school.
Q4. What is the role of the PTSA in supporting this program?
A4. Challenge Success is jointly funded by Monta Vista and the PTSA.
Q5. How can parents support the work of the program in reducing academic and emotional stress?
Q5. The following common-sense tips (from http://www.challengesuccess.org/parents/parenting-guidelines/) are based on children’s known developmental needs and recent research on child and adolescent well-being. Here’s what you can do immediately to support healthy development and prepare your child for real success.
• Define success on your terms.
Take time to consider the qualities you hope your children have when they leave the nest. How you define success is analogous to your mission statement as a parent. Without considering this explicitly, many families unwittingly default to the prevailing, narrow notion of success. Resist parent peer pressure, be informed and trust your gut.
• Maintain play time, down time, and family time. Avoid over-scheduling.
Young children need ample time for their most important job: unstructured play. Kids of all ages need restorative time to reflect and dream. And families need time together: at meals, on weekends, and during vacations to connect and form lasting bonds.
• Love your children unconditionally.
The basis for healthy emotional development is a sense of being lovable. Make sure your children know that they are loved for who they are, not only for how well they perform. Value the uniqueness of each child.
• Discipline and set limits.
There are two sides to parenting: warmth and discipline. Warmth is easier, but discipline is equally important. Children feel secure and cared for when their parents are willing to set limits. This is how children learn important skills like self-control and frustration tolerance. Don’t worry about your child’s temporary anger or indignation when you set limits. It will pass.
• Allow kids space to develop on their own and make mistakes.
Kids today experience unprecedented levels of adult direction and intervention. Whenever possible, let kids play and work on their own. Encourage appropriate risk-taking and allow kids to make mistakes–and learn from them. Self-direction and risk-taking breed resilience, creative thinking, and long-term success.
• Build responsibility at home and in the community.
Have children help in age-appropriate ways with chores around the house. This requires you to take time to show children how to do the chores and to allow tasks to get done differently (and sometimes not as well) as if you did them yourself. It also reminds children that they are a contributing, capable part of a family team, not an entitled member served by parents. As they get older, encourage children to be active participants in their community, and set an example by being involved yourself.
Set limits on the amount of time your children watch TV, play screen-based games, instant message, and use the computer recreationally. For young children, less than an hour or so per day is a good starting point. Older kids also need limits on their screen time and the content they watch. All screen time is not equal, and you need to be aware of what your child is watching and with whom they are communicating. Children need ample time to interact with real people, without technology, and to be in the natural world.
• Ease performance pressure.
For many young people, the questions parents ask most often are: “How did you do on the test? Have you done your homework?” The subtle message to kids is that performance and results matter most. Instead, emphasize the importance of effort, hard work, resilience, and intellectual curiosity by asking open-ended, nonjudgmental questions such as, “How did the day go?”
• Debunk college myths.
Make sure your children understand that there are many different paths to success after high school. There are many, many excellent colleges, all with different attributes and personalities; none right for everyone. Help your child find the “right fit.” Some students may fare better attending a junior college or other post-secondary option (such as gap year, travel programs, or trade schools).
One of the purposes of the Challenge Success program is that there are many different paths to success. We asked Monta Vista students questions about success. Our aim was to show how there isn't just one definition of success, but rather everyone has their own
Try one or more of these ideas
(or suggest them to your child)
Listen to a favorite song and sing along
Take a relaxing shower
Watch a funny video on YouTube
Pet an animal
Give and get a hug
Practice deep breathing
Write about what’s bothering/stressing
you and then write something you are grateful for
Do some light exercise
Walk barefoot in the grass
(Source: ithrive@Stanford / www.tinybuddah.com)
5 CHALLENGE SUCCESS STRATEGIES TO REDUCE STRESS FOR YOUR CHILD THIS SCHOOL YEAR
DEFINE SUCCESS ON YOUR TERMS - The prevailing culture focuses on measurable achievement (i.e. GPA and SAT scores) in defining success. Be clear with your children on what success looks like for your family.
CREATE A FAMILY PLAN - Determine in advance the academic load and level of extracurricular activity that works for both your child and your family.
INSIST ON HEALTHY FOOD AND ADEQUATE SLEEP CONSISTENTLY
DON’T FORGET TO SCHEDULE FOR PLAY TIME, DOWN TIME, AND FAMILY TIME
EASE EXCESSIVE PERFORMANCE PRESSURE and END THE HOMEWORK WARS - If homework is a power struggle, then it’s likely that you are too invested in it. (Consider your role with your child’s homework analogous to a parent’s role with a child who plays soccer; support your child and cheer for him/her, but don’t go onto the field to coach him/her or tell him/her what to do… or kick the ball for him/her.) Let your child make mistakes and fail, especially when the stakes are relatively low like with homework. Life’s best lessons and “teachable moments” come from mistakes and failures. When we consistently rescue our children, we deny them the opportunity to develop resilience and fortitude as they struggle with challenges.
(Content from Primer for Parents on Challenge Success Teams)
"PDF” new meaning: play time, downtime and family time.
The concept of reducing stress to enhance students’ quality of life and academic performance is catching on. Check out this recent New York Times article for another perspective.
Look at the 'Challenge Success' category of the PTSA Blog to find out more about what's happening with Challenge Success at the school.
Challenge Success also have a 'Courageous Parenting' blog that is helpful for parents in terms of continuing the theme of how we define success.
Challenge Success Blog
Don’t miss the postings by Dr. Madeline Levine, Challenge Success Co-Founder.
Parenting Guidelines: Keep these common-sense tips handy for when the pressures of parenting and education seem overwhelming.
Challenge Success Resources
Challenge Success Newsletter