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Summer 2011

Books: Your Successful Preschooler

Your Successful PreschoolerAnyone who has spent time with young children can tell you that not every child is naturally social. Some are simply more engaged with their friends than others. Fortunately, the latest research shows that children can be taught — at very young ages — the skills they need to be both academically and socially successful. In Your Successful Preschooler, Ann Densmore, Ed.M.’91, and Margaret Bauman identify and examine 10 important traits that successful children share as well as specific strategies for parents and teachers to help further the development of these traits.

After years of studying and working with children, Densmore and Bauman concluded that the most successful preschoolers demonstrate 10 qualities that allow them to socialize well with their peers and maintain healthy friendships: likability, achievement, happiness, strong moral character, resiliency, flexibility, organization, leadership, social engagement, and passion about learning. While most children eventually achieve competency in each of these areas, those with learning or developmental issues often have more difficulty acquiring these skills. Through parental perseverance and positive intervention during the early period of rapid brain development, the likelihood of future social and academic success increases tremendously.

In a culture that continually emphasizes academic achievement alone, this book refocuses our attention on the value of games and social interaction in the preschool years. The authors show how facilitated play can improve a child’s emotional connection with peers, and suggest various approaches parents and educators can take to promote language growth during play.

The strategies outlined are based on Densmore’s theory of narrative play, which incorporates speech therapy with peer relationships in natural settings. This play-based approach to learning and social development is as effective as it is fun. “Many parents who have followed this program have told us that they were able to see their child in a totally different light and were able to deepen their own relationships with them,” Densmore writes. “They were thrilled to experience their child’s joy in forming friendships that can last a lifetime.”