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Optimal Interventions

The Chronicle of Evidence-Based Mentoring posted a powerful article by Dr. Jack Shankoff about improving child outcomes. Here are some of the highlights that have direct applications to mentoring:

  • “Toxic stress in the early years can disrupt brain architecture and other maturing biological systems in a way that leads to poor outcomes in learning behavior, & health.”
  • “The goal is to prevent or mitigate the consequences of toxic stress by buffering young children from abuse or neglect, exposure to violence, parental mental illness or substance abuse, and other serious threats to their wellbeing.”
  • “One area that appears to be particularly ripe for innovation is the domain of executive functioning. These skills include the ability to focus and sustain attention, set goals and make
    plans, follow rules, solve problems, monitor actions, delay gratification, and control impulses.”
  • “Research indicates that a child’s executive function skills develop through structured play and caregiver modeling, while adult capabilities are strengthened through mentoring or coaching – and both get better with practice.”

We can logically put this research into practice: role modeling and structured play is optimal for younger students. As youth mature, a coaching and standard mentoring model should be implemented.

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