What Children Need to Flourish

Workshop By: Gordon Neufeld. PhD.

What is flourishing? According to Dr. Neufeld flourishing is all that we can be. ‘Flourishing’ cannot be taught though because it is natural and emotion. In the dictionary flourish is defines as, “to grow well or luxuriantly; to thrive; to grow and develop in a healthy way”.

For our students to flourish they need to show potential. Children need to be able to handle adversity and adapt to change. Children need to be able to function separately and independently. Children need to do togetherness’ and separateness’ simultaneously, and as teachers, we need to remember that diplomacy means nothing without integrity.

In order for children to flourish they need to be adaptive, emergent, and integrative. This means learning from mistakes, taking a sense of agency, responsibility, and curiosity. Children need to learn from dissonance. What needs to happen at home? Children need to have a sense of rest and relief from work and attachment. The children need the ability to FEEL tender emotion. Children need sufficient freedom and space for true PLAY.

What can we do in school?

Build a sense of attachment.

Reverse Shyness: Children are shy around those they don’t trust or know which creates a barrier.
Counterwill: All of us have an instinct if someone tells us something. With children, we need to collect trust before interaction of those who are not attached to us.
Cultivating Connections: When we collect trust we can bridge connections and matchmake with the children.



3 thoughts on “What Children Need to Flourish

  1. This really hits home and highlights the importance of connections with students and community–it is fantastic. I’d be interested to know what kind of exercises Dr. Neufeld utilizes to build trust and encourage/facilitate a safe environment for students. Thanks Ms. Ruchotzke!


    1. I know one exercise that I have read in his book so far is called Common Ground. You can divide students into small groups and have them discuss things that they have in common, such as eye colour or maybe which part of the community they live in. They must also seek unusual things they have in common for example; being a twin or having an unusual pet, like a parrot. Explain to participants they have 15 minutes to find as many common facts as they can. The team who comes up with the most items in common wins the game.


  2. Interesting! Do you have any ideas on how to help students who are exceptionally shy in the classroom? I can think of a couple of students who do not do specific tasks in the classroom when put in front of the class, or even alongside others!


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