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Your Child's Strengths: Discover Them, Develop Them, Use Them Hardcover – February 28, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Fox, head of a girl's boarding school in New Jersey, writes about a strengths-based curriculum she developed and implemented with great success. She not only presents a workbook that can be utilized by educators and parents, but also offers a convincing argument in favor of over-turning outdated curriculums and teaching methods. Instead of focusing on weaknesses, Fox submits that children do far better when the focus is on their strengths. Childhood is for "creative dreaming," not preparation for standardized tests. Fox identifies three types of strengths: activity, learning and relationship strengths, and helps parents guide their children toward self-discovery, explaining that true strengths include not only what a child is good at, but what she enjoys and makes her feel strong. The book is written in a lively and engaging style, and sprinkled with anecdotes from Fox's teaching life and her own experiences as a student who was frustrated and uncomfortable in a traditional school setting. Clearly, writing is one of Fox's strengths, as is her inspiring passion for helping kids lead meaningful lives.
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"Brilliant, innovative, enormously practical . . . this book could change the world."
-Edward Hallowell, M.D., author of Driven to Distraction

"Jenifer Fox has extraordinary insight into the minds of young people and an unshakable belief in their potential. . . . This is one program that the schools must have."
-Marcus Buckingham, from the Foreword

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Viking; 1st Printing edition (February 28, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670018767
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670018765
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #665,492 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jenifer Fox, M-Ed is the author of the book, Your Child's Strengths and the award-winning, groundbreaking strengths-based curriculum, The Affinities Program.

With 25 years of experience as a teacher and an administrator in a wide variety of pre-collegiate settings: public and independent schools, day and boarding schools, religiously affiliated, single-sexed and special needs schools, international and American schools, Jenifer Fox has set out to lead The Strengths Movement in Schools, an international educational movement aimed at transforming the K-12 system from one that focuses on the deficits and weaknesses of children to one that celebrates strengths.
A struggling student in high school, Jenifer overcame her challenges through devoting her energies to discovering her strengths. She holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin- Madison and two masters degrees: an MA from Middlebury College's Bread Loaf School of English and an M-Ed from Harvard University.

Ms. Fox has written numerous articles and presented workshops throughout the country on the topic of school reform, teaching struggling students, parenting, and building on strengths to realize human potential. Jenifer's experience as an actor and a writer make her an engaging and compelling storyteller and speaker.

Born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Jenifer has lived in Denver, San Francisco's East Bay, the west coast of Florida and in the New York metropolitan area. As an independent school administrator her specialty is in 'turn-around' businesses where she is able to leverage the strengths of an organization to change it from an institution in a struggling weakened state to one that thrives both culturally and financially on its strengths.

Jenifer lives in New Jersey with her husband and two dogs.

In 2006, I traveled with business consultant Marcus Buckingham on his Go Put Your Strengths to Work tour. I was the educational expert on the tour, spreading the word about how strengths can help all kids be successful in school. I am the President of the Purnell School,, the first strength-based high school in the USA. I have written my own book, "Your Child's Strengths, Discover Them, Develop Them, Use Them." This book will give you many practical ideas about how to apply strengths in your home and with your children.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By D. Butler on February 11, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love this book. This is the refreshing voice that we need leading the way of reform for education for our children. One of the perspectives that I really appreciate is that we are making a mistake in assuming that learning differences are an issue for the child only. It is very often a mismatch of environment and learning style that create the struggle.
On a different note, Amazon has this book listed as frequently bought with Your Child's Strengths: Discover Them, Develop Them, and Use Them. These are the same book, one in hardcover, one in paperback. I have contacted Amazon several times to get them to clear up the confusion on the listing but have not yet seen results. I purchased both books at their recommendation and want to help others avoid the same duplication.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Susan Goewey on February 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Jenifer Fox's stories are SO interesting and enlightening...pick up the book and randomly read and you'll find fascinating, easy to understand real-life parables.

As Fox says, "Simply put, strengths are tasks you do that make you feel energized, empowered and strong. Strengths do not neccessarily turn into talents thru practice. They exist well beyond what you like to do or have a preference for...when strengths are tied to interests or affininties, children can develop skills because they are inclined to practice longer....

"Strengths allow "flow" --the act of being so absorbed in an activity that you lose your sense of time and place. Talent and skill have the opportunity to develop to their greatest potential when a person is in a state of need to understand what your (true) strengths are and develop them."

It has a workbook w/ questions to guide you to "epiphanies" of understanding. Even such things as household tasks you hate vs. those you actually enjoy.

Applied: i.e., I thought I hated housework, but I don't really. I just hate cleaning bathrooms, organizing paper. But for some reason I enjoy laundry! And making beds! (so much payoff for such little effort)...but I hate bill paying, doing the taxes (dreaded paperwork). Yet I LOVE emailing/writing doing book reviews on Amazon. Meanwhile, my husband loves cooking...and my distractable daughter who is terrible at "chores" happily makes beautiful, elaborate salads for dinner.
Why have I not been valuing that and trading that task for bed-making/laundry? It IS a fair trade that can make us both feel happy/empowered.

The book will help you recognize/discover, not just your child's strengths, but your own, your spouse's at home and in the workplace.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By jjmachshev VINE VOICE on July 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover
What an excellent book for parents, educators, and just about everyone else too. "Your Child's Strengths" by Jenifer Fox is a well-structured, logical, and methodical plan for bringing out the best in children, while inculcating resiliance and responsibility to help them face the ups and downs ahead of them.

Fox uses well thought-out plans, exercises, and examples to help her target audience learn how to re-focus their senses to work WITH children rather than trying to work ON children. Her approach is designed to assist the parent or educator in acting as a guide to the child who discovers their own strengths. I'm sure anyone who has ever had or worked with a child can verify that truths which come from within are much more powerful and have much more staying power than those others 'teach' TO us. Learning to recognize your own strengths vice talents can be compared to recognizing small epiphanies that occur in your life when you are happy, pleased, and self-confident. In this respect, the book is a manual for recognizing personal strengths in ourselves as well as enabling our children to learn to recognize and work with their strengths.
Fox is careful to explain the both the concepts behind this strategy and the actions needed to carry it out. The first part of the book explains the reasoning and successes of this method. The second portion provides descriptions and examples for recognizing strengths and how to delve deeper than mere words by utilizing all our senses to pick up what children can't or won't say. The final chapters are literally a textbook with exercises, suggestions, and charts each reader can use.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Story Circle Book Reviews on April 11, 2009
Format: Paperback
"The need to develop children's strengths is a story that cuts across economic lines and knows no racial, gender, or cultural boundaries," writes Jenifer Fox in How to Discover and Develop Your Child's Strengths. Fox, an experienced teacher and school administrator, says "I write this book with the hope that it can offer a clear and well-lit path to a new way of teaching and raising children."

One of the most crucial pieces of advice I gleaned from this book is this: "The language parents and teachers use with and in front of children is critical to developing strength or focusing on weakness. Children need to know that adults believe in them even if their actions are not always strong." This spoke to me at a very personal level. My second son is extremely speech delayed. I get so frustrated with him after working on the same color for several months. I call him "slow" and "behind" when discussing him with others. Fox made me consider this: what if by labeling him slow, I am only adding to his problems? I need to discover my son's strengths rather than focus only on where he is failing.

The last portion of Fox's book is a "Create Your Future, Play to Your Strengths" Workbook. She offers numerous activities for parents and educators to use with their children. One of my favorite activities involves displaying a variety of photos of people doing things. I did this with my four-year-old daughter. I would ask her which of the activities she found most appealing and why and which was the least appealing. This was a great way to stimulate discussion as well as get her to think critically about what she does and does not like and the reasons behind her preferences.
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