Millions, perhaps even billions of words have been written on how best to instill self-confidence in children. It’s a trait every parent wants for their child — an unflinching belief that he or she has what it takes to find success. At GPS, we focus a lot on the subject because it’s also an area where many adolescent girls struggle.
According to the 2018 Ypulse Confidence Code poll, girls experience a significant dip in confidence that begins in puberty and perpetuates well into adulthood.
- Between ages 8 and 14, girls’ confidence levels drop by 30%.
- Nearly 8 in 10 girls want to feel more confident in themselves.
- There is virtually no difference in confidence between boys and girls until age 12. After that, a confidence gap opens that doesn’t close through adolescence. At age 14, boys’ confidence is 27% higher than girls’.
The biggest factor in fostering girls’ confidence is rooted in healthy relationships. Girls are highly relational and tend to fear not being connected—with peers, family members, and teachers. At GPS, we emphasize sisterhood as well as personal connections with faculty and staff, knowing that a girl learns best when she feels supported.
Strong relationships also help girls:
- Take risks. When you know it's safe to fail, you’re more apt to try.
- Find their voice. We emphasize a culture that promotes both individuality and community.
- Take ownership of their learning journey. GPS girls are encouraged to pursue their passions.
As an all-girls school, we also have the freedom to design and shape our program, curriculum, and experience based on what girls need. Most recently that has meant the implementation of our 5C Learning Framework, adapted from the National Education Association.
NEA defines the “Four Cs” as critical analysis, collaboration, creativity, and communication. We added the fifth C (confidence) because we believe it is a result of a girl’s mastery of the first four. No matter what she studies or which career she later pursues, the 5C Learning Framework prepares her for life and work in the 21st century.
As a liberal arts school, the GPS education has always incorporated these five “Cs” on some level. This new framework simply provides a more intentional application, making sure we engage girls daily in all five areas.
THE FIVE C FRAMEWORK
We seek to educate girls who will grow to become global citizens, problem-seekers and problem solvers, and confident leaders in all facets of their lives.
- CRITICAL ANALYSIS
Most girls begin their GPS career as concrete thinkers. We challenge students in age-appropriate ways to recognize multidimensional problems and solutions. They learn to ask the right questions, identify problems, and generate solutions based on research and experience.
Girls naturally prefer group work, and it’s a big part of the GPS classroom. We encourage collaboration with girls who might not naturally team up to help broaden students’ horizons and learn from people with different opinions and approaches.
Our modern economy is dependent on creative thinkers and innovators. This key skill is part of everything we do, from encouraging original ideas in art or music to creative problem solving in math or science. Most importantly, we emphasize that creativity is something you continually practice rather than a natural inclination.
Communication is more than what you say, it’s also what you hear. We encourage active listening with a respectfully open mind. Emphasis is placed on all forms of communication, including written expression, discussion, nonverbal cues and technology.
Confident girls are more likely to take risks, advocate for themselves and their beliefs, take ownership of their learning journey, and pursue their passions. Ultimately, they are better prepared to meaningfully contribute to their world —our primary goal for each GPS girl.
Confidence is a key predictor of a girl’s future success. You can’t teach it, but you can cultivate it. We do so by emphasizing strong relationships and teaching self awareness, resilience and a growth mindset.
Adolescence is a critical time for cultivating confidence. It can be tricky though, as girls undergo rapid and significant growth, including physical, neurodevelopmental, psychological, behavioral, emotional, and social. The middle and high school years are when a young girl forms her identity and her view of the world around her. At GPS, we consider it a great honor to walk alongside her during this transition from childhood to adulthood.