Thoughts On Outliers

I picked up Outliers: The Story of Success  I read the whole book by the end of Sunday. It was fascinating.

I had to keep stopping so that I could read what I had just discovered to my husband. I don’t want to give away everything that is in the book. You should read it yourself! But there is one portion that I wanted to share as a way of motivating parents when it comes to helping their kids become successful.

One of the chapters in the book addressed the learning gap that you see in children as they start school. It also presents data that shows that the learning gap gets wider as they continue on in their school years. The most surprising thing to me is that the gap appears to widen over the summer months. In other words, if you test all the first graders at the end of the school year and again at the beginning of the next school year, the gap between the high and low scores increases.

Gladwell, the author of the book, points to the difference in the summer vacation experience between those with the high scores and the low scores. Those with the high scores, generally have parents who are invested in providing/pushing continued learning opportunities over the summer. They don’t take the summer “off” from learning.

So, how can we help develop a new generation of “outliers”?

  • Understand that a home environment that encourages learning is one of the biggest keys to success.
  • If you have a child who is struggling, giving them three months “off” is probably not helpful.
  • Partner with families that don’t have the resources that you have. The child down the road, from the single-parent family, could have their life changed for the better if they had someone encouraging them to just read during the summer.

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