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The Secret Ingredient in Successful K-12 Education That No One Talks About

A foundational part of a Christian education is building students’ character as well as their academic skills. At Northshore Christian Academy, we teach Christian values and spiritual life through daily Bible study, weekly chapel, service experiences, and more. But we don’t stop there: we also help students develop the traits and attitudes that will help them serve well throughout their lives.

At NCA, we believe grit is one of the most important character traits for students to develop. With grit, you can succeed at any goal and work through whatever challenges may be ahead.

What is grit? 

One way to think about grit is to consider what grit isn’t. Grit isn’t talent. Grit isn’t luck. Grit isn’t how intensely you want something for the moment.

Instead, grit is about having a goal you care about so much that it organizes and gives meaning to almost everything you do. And grit is holding steadfast to that goal over time. Even when you fall down. Even when you mess up. Even when progress toward that goal is halting or slow.

Talent and luck can lead to success in school and beyond. But talent is no guarantee of grit. And in the very long run, grit may matter as least as much as talent and luck, if not more, for what you achieve.

What does grit look like?

Students with grit might:

  • Develop and deepen their interests
  • Stick with commitments, even when it’s difficult
  • Avoid quitting a sport in the middle of the season
  • Revise an essay repeatedly
  • Ask other people for feedback about how they can improve

Grit: Can it be taught? 

At NCA, we do everything we can to encourage grit and other positive character traits. But character is built both at home and in the classroom, and there are some things that parents can do at home:  

  1. Encourage Effort - Share a situation that required you to confront a challenge. If your child knows how you overcame a struggle, it will help them build confidence to do the same. Then, acknowledge their efforts when they show grit. Be specific: Instead of just saying “Good job!” try, “Your daily practice at the pool paid off when you nailed the dive at the swim meet.” 
  1. Jump the Bumps - Help your child learn to handle setbacks by making “stretch” goals for themselves. For example, if they received a poor English grade, they might work toward better grades on essays. Their “stretches” could be to improve their thesis statements, to include more evidence to support their points, and to spend 15 minutes each night writing in a journal. Achieving tougher goals will give them the grit to keep going further.

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