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Opinion & Essays - Aug, 1996 Issue #41 

Emotional Growth School
By Anne Lewis

An educational consultant in Santa Barbara, California, 805-969-2186) 

Emotional Growth schools foster patience and the ability to delay gratification by: 

l.) Setting clear boundaries and backing them up with consequences which are meaningful and consistent. This predictability creates a place of security. Students are inclined to feel patient when they feel safe. 

2.) Deliberately slowing down the students’ pace of life by keeping distractions such as TV and videos to a minimum. Without the staccato tempo of constantly changing visual and auditory stimulation, a space for reflection is created. 

3.) Requiring participation in group discussions where students develop the patience to hear how they are perceived by others without interrupting or running away. 

4. Providing a time to anticipate and wait for privileges. 

A parent wrote: “The success is in the milieu. It’s a comprehensive program which completely surrounds a child and addresses his or her needs. As a counselor said to me, “Nothing happens here by chance.” Counselors and teachers held him accountable for his behavior in a safe and caring environment. He was required to attend class, do his homework, and participate in group therapy sessions. Computers were accessible, though he didn’t make as much use of them as I had envisioned. He found satisfaction from a wide range of growth- producing athletic and cultural activities. He was confronted in group therapy sessions about his tendencies to procrastinate and make excuses for himself. 

Counselors and peers had the courage and perseverance to give him continued honest feedback. The attentional deficiency was not permitted to be an excuse for half-hearted work. At his request and the school’s, medication was not part of the treatment plan. He made a turn around and graduated. Even French, a hard subject for kids who have trouble memorizing, went from a “D” to a “B”. Like all human endeavors, the school isn’t perfect. 

It wasn’t an easy place to be. Students are held to a higher level of accountability than they are in the everyday world. But now he feels he can follow his dreams. 

Copyright © 1996, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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