Assets: How many do your students have?

At a recent AEE conference, I was introduced to a gem.  A gem on student (heck, human) development. As a practical person, mom and educator, I appreciate succinct information backed by research.  If you can summarize that research in a chart, table or checklist, all the better. 

Let me introduce you to the Search Institute.

Search Institute meet amazing blog visitor (or follower).  Blog visitor (or follower), meet the Search Institute.

The Search Institute is a non-profit organization dedicated to understanding what kids need in order to thrive and grow .  Through studies involving 2.2 million kids (now, that's a sample size!), the Search Institute realized that the more assets a student has, the less likely they are to engage in at-risk behaviors and the more likely they are to be successful, thrive and grow.  To me, it is like a checklist for successful development.  All new parents at their child's birth should be given a pack of cloth diapers, a giftcard to Starbucks and a checklist to plan how they will help their child thrive and grow.

The asset checklists are divided by age group starting with age 3 years and going all the way to 18 years.  They are available in English and 14 other languages.  Evidently, the Search Institute is uber-diverse and brilliant, too!

Some of the bummer news: Out of the 40 identified assets, the average female student encapsulates about 20 assets, while their male classmates about 17 assets.  Of course, I felt eagerly inclined to count up little O's assets.  Whew, I counted 39 assets.  You know I am unbiased.

Here's the great news:  It doesn't matter which assets your students have, what's matters is how many assets they have.  Hooray!  As educators (and/or parents) we just need our students to rack up those assets.

Take a look at the main Developmental Assets Tools page.  The (brilliant) Search Institute has offered all their rationale, research findings and checklists.  Consider downloading the asset checklist for the age group you work with most often.  Then, apply that checklist to a challenging student, a student at-risk or just your average student.  From there you will have a clearer understanding of how to nurture them and cultivate more assets.  By the way, for upper elementary, middle and high school grade levels, you might have the students check off their own assets and plan their own unique ways to acquire more.

Though it is still winter in most parts of the northern hemisphere, I liken this asset post to planning your spring flower garden.  Identify which flowers will be annuals and decide which new flowers - which new assets - you need to plant and grow.

All the best,


  1. Love this checklist. Z didn't fare to badly either. There are a few I'd like to nurture and help thrive though. Love the checklist way of listing these items. Great site! Thanks, Jen!

  2. Shannon - How great for little Z! I am not surprised. I do love how easy to use the checklists are....

    Best, Jen

  3. I believe this is an excellent tool for teachers and parents. I would love to use this in my classroom and be able to individually evaluate my students. However, I know that wouldn't be realistic. So, I noticed the printable version was a bit long and I know a lot of parents would probably throw them away. I would instead include 2 or 3 of the assets in a weekly newsletter. I would also include the "take action" part. This way I wouldn't single out any students and parents wouldn't get offended if they saw it in a newsletter. However, if I had a student with some behavior problems then I would use this as one of my observation tools on the child and include it in their portfolio for parent-teacher conference.

    Kelli D.

  4. This is such a great tool for parents as well as teachers. Teachers could certainly use it with a student who they feel may be struggling in their socioemotional development. In my fieldwork I am noticing that many special education students are being identified and ED (emotionally disabled), but perhaps they are missing some of the assets listed on this resource. The list includes assets under areas such as empowerment, boundaries & expectations, social competencies and many others that relate directly to each age's stage of socioemotional development. Lack of these assets could result in the latter end of Erickson's stages, ie: doubt, guilt, etc.

  5. I work for a municipal recreation department, and we have been actively using the Developmental Assets for years, as does our local school district. There are about 9 we can work into our programs, and we especially love Reading for Pleasure!

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