Social-Emotional Skills Can Assure Kids Thrive

Teaching Kids to Thrive: Essential Skills for Success
By Debbie Silver and Dedra Stafford
(Corwin, 2017 – Learn more)

Reviewed by David Bever

I don’t have my homework today! My pencil is broken! I cannot find my math book! As teachers, how many of those excuses have you heard over the years? I’m sure you can add more to this list from your own students.

I am also sure that you would like for all of your students to be more focused, helpful, kind, honest, and responsible. Is there something you could use to help them achieve these goals? I highly recommend you include Teaching Kids to Thrive: Essential Skills for Learning in your professional library.

After reading this book you will be able to do the following:

  • Use strategies to help students focus in school
  • Help students to become motivated for learning
  • Encourage students to make plans for later in life
  • Help students to persevere at school
  • Allow students to become responsible citizens
  • Demonstrate how to have integrity and to show gratitude

Bring SEL to life in the classroom

The authors of this book want to help you become equipped with practical skills on how to use social and emotional learning (SEL) so that students can thrive in our fast-paced complex world. This book will provide you with an in-depth look at these topics from the book’s nine chapters: mindfulness, command and control function, self-efficacy, perseverance, resilience, responsibility, honesty, empathy, and gratitude.

The premise of this book is for teachers to use the authors’ suggested strategies to go beyond the subject matter and academic skills to help students thrive. The authors’ intent is to

  • Allow students to navigate their lives for the future
  • Explore teaching skills for social and emotional learning (SEL)
  • Offer educators justifiable research for incorporating social and emotional learning (SEL) for all grade levels in each discipline
  • Offer teachers a wide range of interesting strategies to help students thrive as learners

A wide range of useful strategies

Silver and Stafford have provided many well-designed strategies so that students can become more focused, using techniques to calm the brain’s emotional center and handle the daily distractions of life. Strategies include the use of mnemonics, sketch notes, and even highlighters for increased learning.

Other strategies encourage teachers to provide a supportive classroom that emphasizes effort, practice, and determination. Students need to discover that late and unfinished homework is not acceptable in order to thrive as a learner. Another goal for the teacher is to provide a resilient friendly classroom where there are opportunities to build relationships, to share common experiences, and to work together towards mutual classroom goals.

Teachers need to model responsibility for rules, routines, and procedures and to teach students how to become accountable for their own learning through reasonable expectations. Learning needs to be the primary goal of every assignment for every class.

Empathy (awareness of feelings and emotions) is an essential skill that will make good students better people. Teachers need to create a classroom that shows empathy by modeling active listening, knowing all students by name, and being mindful of the whole child.

The last chapter centers on gratitude (recognizing what has been done for you). Gratitude helps to build classroom community and to promote positive interactions. Teachers need to practice showing gratitude to their students and to also demonstrate appreciation for their students.

Each chapter in Teaching Kids to Thrive provides an excellent summary of the social and emotional learning skills needed to help students thrive in the classroom. The authors have included the latest research for understanding the basis for SEL along with personal stories indicating how the use of thrive skills can improve the academic and emotional lives of students. At the end of each chapter there are many easy-to-follow activities for integrating the thrive skills in the classroom.

An essential book, a fully developed website

The authors have created a sensational website,, that you need to bookmark for additional exploration. Their website is a “living extension of the book” which complements each chapter with printable activity pages, activities not already in the book, and recommended videos.

Enjoy reading this book’s invaluable strategies, tips, stories, and guidelines as you strengthen your ability to help students thrive as 21st century learners. Your students will become focused, determined, and motivated.

David Bever is a retired Lutheran school teacher, having taught for 43 years. He taught for 27 years at St. Thomas Lutheran School in Eastpointe, MI and for 16 years at Faith Lutheran Middle School in Las Vegas, NV. He and his wife Peggy have two grown children and three granddaughters.




MiddleWeb is all about the middle grades, with great 4-8 resources, book reviews, and guest posts by educators who support the success of young adolescents. And be sure to subscribe to MiddleWeb SmartBrief for the latest middle grades news & commentary from around the USA.

2 Responses

  1. Thank you, David. We are really proud of our book and can’t wait to have teachers visit us on our website,

  2. Dedra says:

    David THANK YOU so much for the thoughtful review of Thrive! Debbie and I are grateful and honored you read Teaching Kids to Thrive and enjoyed it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.