“Never has resilience — be it physical, mental, emotional or financial — been more important to our society than in the past year and a half, and never have I been so determined to pass it on to my son.” E. VanceThe New York Times, September 21, 2021
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
Excerpt: The Secret to Raising a Resilient Kid, By Erik Vance, The New York Times, Sept. 14, 2021
“In my early teens, my dad took myself, my best friend and our neighbor on a grueling backpacking trip connecting California’s Yosemite Valley to Half Dome to nearby Clouds Rest mountain and back again. By the second day — halfway up Clouds Rest, on wobbly legs and besieged by mosquitoes — we finally mutinied. The three of us made it clear to my father that we were done. Nobody had heard of Clouds Rest and nobody had the juice to see the top.
‘OK, I understand,’ I remember Dad saying. ‘You guys stay here. Erik, let’s go.’
There was no point arguing. Even today, my only memory of the top of Clouds Rest is the blue sky I saw flat on my back, panting and praying for a speedy death.
Later, of course, I described the hike as an epic victory of teenager over nature. Which, I suspect, is why my dad pushed me to do it. Whether he knew it or not, Dad was a big believer in the concept of resilience, the ability to engage with a challenge, risk or impediment, and come out the other side with some measure of success…Thankfully, most experts say resiliency is something that can be fostered, nurtured and developed in children from a very young age. You just have to build a safe foundation, find challenges and watch kids thrive.
Build a stable, safe foundation… “Having a relationship with a caring parent is far and away the most powerful protective factor for children,” said Ann Masten, a psychology professor at the University of Minnesotaand a pioneer in the study of resiliency in children.
Once a kid feels safe, supported and has a good model of resilience, it’s time to challenge her a little…’One of the great skills of parenting is knowing how to challenge, when to challenge, how much to challenge,’ Dr. Masten said. ‘There’s no one right way to foster resilience, just like there’s no one right way to parent.’
If you put the word “resilience” on a poster, it would probably be under a photo of someone climbing a mountain, fighting a forest fire or perhaps tending to patients in a Covid ward. But, in fact, it’s the small disappointments or frustrating moments that truly build resilience.”
NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.
Level: Intermediate – Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 60 minutes.
Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.
Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.
I. Pre-Reading Activities
Predictions: Using a Pre-reading Organizer
Directions: Examine the title of the post and of the actual article. Next examine any photos. Write a paragraph describing what you think this article will discuss. A pre-reading organizer may be used.
II. While Reading Activities
Directions: Try to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. You use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.
- Raising a resilient kid might be challenging.
- In my early teens, my dad took myself, my best friend and our neighbor on a grueling backpacking trip.
- By the second day we were besieged by mosquitoes.
- We finally mutinied.
- Later, of course, I described the hike as an epic victory of teenager over nature.
- It’s a psychological principle blending optimism, flexibility, and problem-solving.
- It is about the ability to bounce back even when times get tough.
- You just have to build a safe foundation, find challenges and watch kids thrive.
- Children need to feel they have a stable home base before they can take risks and learn to bounce back.
- When we arrived, we learned that the next 48 hours would be plagued with thunderstorms, downpours and even a flood warning.
Grammar Focus: Identifying Prepositions
Directions: The following sentences are from the news article.For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices listed. Note that not all prepositions listed are in the article.
Make the most of small challenges. If you put the word “resilience” on a poster, it would probably be under a photo of someone climbing a mountain, fighting a forest fire or perhaps tending to patients in a Covid ward. But, in fact, it’s the small disappointments or frustrating moments that truly build resilience.
When teaching canoeing, for instance, he starts by putting a kid into a boat to see if she can figure it out. Then, after a little frustration, he gives some instruction and lets her try again.
Reading Comprehension: Identify The Speakers
Directions: Read the following quotes from the speakers in the article. Then identify the speakers.
- “Whether he knew it or not, Dad was a big believer in the concept of resilience, the ability to engage with a challenge, risk or impediment, and come out the other side with some measure of success.”
- “Resilient people not only bounce back, but also thrive in the best of times.”
- “Creating resilience in children isn’t just chucking them into the deep end of a pool to see if they can swim, it’s about the bedrock of support you give them every day. Having a relationship with a caring parent is far and away the most powerful protective factor for children,”
- “It’s not just about being tough — that’s not resiliency. It’s about doing things that you’re not sure you can do. And with other people.”
Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing
Directions: Have students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards, students share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.
- According to experts, how is resiliency acquired?
- How does Dr. Masten, describe resilience?
- What must parents do before attempting to teach resilience to their children?
- Why is it important to ‘regulate’ your own emotions around your children?
- The article states that if some people place the word ‘resilience’ under a poster, it would probably be under a photo of someone climbing a mountain, fighting a forest fire or perhaps tending to patients in a Covid ward. The article continues to state, “But, in fact, it’s the small disappointments or frustrating moments that truly build resilience.” What photo or image would you place under the word ‘resilience’?
- Explain ’cause and effect’ as applied to a child coming home with an F in math.
- According to Dr. Masten what is one great parenting skill?
- List three new ideas that you’ve learned about the topic from the reading, two things that you did not understand in the reading, and one thing you would like to know that the article did not mention. Share your responses with your class.
- List 3 questions that you would like to ask any person mentioned in the article. Share questions as a class.
Photo Activity for speaking or Writing
Place students in groups and have the cut out or take pictures describing what they think resilience means. Share pictures as a class.