“Let Them Thrive” by Katie Novak

Let Them Thrive: A Playbook for Helping Your Child Succeed in School and in LifeLet Them Thrive: A Playbook for Helping Your Child Succeed in School and in Life by Katie Novak
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In this book, Dr. Novak introduces the research-based framework on Universal Design for Learning (UDL). The goal is to assist parents with enabling their children to have success in school and in life. In this playbook, Novak uses UDL to focus on how parents can be intentional and involved in their child’s education process, looking at how each child has options and notices about how they learn and what to do with that. A departure from the traditional model that gives all students the same experience and those that deviate as needing “fixing,” UDL is designed to help personalize experiences to enable student success and long-term growth. This book removes the home/school barrier and presents a more holistic alternative.

Novak starts the book with a reasonable argument: if technology evolves to meet the needs of society, then why shouldn’t education evolve to meet the needs of youth today? It’s a great point to consider. Additionally, she has the statistics to prove her points. What Novak argues for in the book is a great idea, but the application is much the harder, and she recognizes this. It will take not just parental support, but parental involvement (beyond PTA) to change the trajectory of this ship. This book is a great start to the conversation, one that has the initial step: reading it. Luckily, it’s not just the idea that’s engaging, but Novak’s voice as an author, as well. Easy to engage and encouraging, Her method of writing is the same as what she’s teaching: multiple ways to engage, multiple ways to comprehend, and multiple ways to express.

Personally, this approach is essential. It’s what Portland Seminary does with their Doctor of Ministry dissertation track: give students ways to learn, express, and teach in order to go beyond mastery of the material.

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