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News and Opinion Jul 22, 2016

Nonacademic Skills Are the Necessary Foundation for Learning | EdWeek

In her article, Nonacademic Skills Are the Necessary Foundation for Learning, K. Brooke Stafford-Brizard argues that nonacademic and social-emotional skills are essential for student success. If academic standards are what students must learn, certain social-emotional skills support how they learn.

Stafford-Brizard  explains that most schools focused solely on academics do not experience great results. “A growing body of research, drawn from the science of child development, demonstrates the extent of the impact that nonacademic and social-emotional skills—such as self-regulation, problem-solving, social awareness, and growth mindset—have on academic outcomes and success in the workforce and in life. While some label these skills as supplemental, recent studies have shown that what we have long considered to be the softer side of education is requisite for success.”

Many of the Building Blocks for Learning Stafford-Brizard highlights in her article are often developed in early childhood, through supportive environments and relationships. But many children, particularly those who grow up in adversity, are not exposed to prerequisite education, such as high-quality preschool programs. “A 2014 report from the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child at Harvard University highlights how chronic stress impairs key learning centers of the brain that are associated with attention, working memory, and emotional regulation.” As a result, many children enter kindergarten without these essential skills.

K. Brooke Stafford-Brizard is a Senior Advisor at Turnaround for Children and author of the Building Blocks for Learning Framework. Read Stafford-Brizard’s full article in EdWeek.