Dr. Jayme Neiman-Kimel and Dr. Jonine Biesman are two of California’s seven Board-certified pediatric neuropsychologists. Together they developed Thrively’s Strength Assessment, an online survey that allows children to discover their strengths. The results are a custom profile built to offer insights into a child’s dynamic personality.
With the incredible and exciting advances in neuroimaging that have emerged over the past decade, we now know that the brain is an extremely dynamic and adaptable organ that can become more efficient based on the experiences to which it is exposed. Its growth and organization is not fixed, but rather ever-changing. Thus, what we do matters! This is the basis of the recommended activities offered through Thrively including out of the box, cutting edge opportunities that not only contribute to the emergence of highly well-rounded children and adolescents but to healthier brains. Specific activities are recommended following a student’s completion of a thoughtfully designed strength finder that is engaging and fun to complete and highly informative for parents.
The science behind the Thrively Strength Explorer and Map is grounded in principles of life span development, strength-based research, the most current understanding of neural connectivity, the mechanisms of optimal brain functioning, motivational variables, as well as over forty years of combined assessment experience with thousands of children and adolescents. It is safe to say that countless tests exist to assess specific “domains of functioning” such as a student’s language skills, academic knowledge, and memory. While these measures provide information about an individual’s capacities as well as their areas of need; most tests that children and adolescents take do not generalize well to their day to day activities nor do they provide direction for enrichment.
The Thrively Strength Explorer formulated by Dr. Biesman and Dr. Neiman-Kimel, board-certified pediatric neuropsychologists, was designed by drawing upon their vast database and knowledge of existing test questions, problem-solving tasks, and brain-behavior relationships coupled with their understanding of personality dynamics, child development, children’s social-emotional needs, and real-life demands. As just one example, we get at the question of a child’s social acumen through a robust set of questions, each with many viable answers. All of this is presented in a way that does not signal anyone answer as more correct than any other. The result is an honest assessment of more than 23 different strengths. Thus, the questions were created to capture information across a broad range of areas essential to one’s functioning but are offered in a much more accessible, engaging, fun and interesting format than students are used to seeing.
Children and adolescents immensely enjoy learning about themselves. What distinguishes the Thrively Strength Explorer is its ability to tap into essential areas of a child’s life in a format that makes sense to them without being overwhelming. Self-awareness is a powerful gift to give our children. Surprisingly, many students when asked, “What is good about you?” struggle with this question. To have a tool that is entirely strength-based is refreshing and innovative in the current world of assessment and fills a missing need in the library of tests available for children and adolescents.
Once completed, an individualized profile is generated from which directed activities are identified. The activities offered may embellish upon already existing strengths as well as to nurture those areas that will help students become more versatile. We seek to optimize each student’s capacity to fully thrive – intellectually, creatively, socially, emotionally, physically, motivationally, morally, and neurologically. Appreciate these principles:
- There are an estimated 100 billion neurons in the human brain. The connectivity of these neurons is what makes us our unique selves. While these connections are to some degree genetically determined, experiences can also influence their optimal arrangement. The brain is in continuous formation throughout life.
- There is no question that motor development and cognitive development are intricately connected and do increase grey matter in the brain, so keep your children moving!
- Brain networks do not work in isolation. Neither should we. Affiliative activities are essential in development.
- Experience can change neural connectivity. Neural connectivity or large scale brain networks influence everything human from cognition to personality to motivation to emotion to our sensory and motor systems. You can be instrumental in shaping your child’s experiences.
- Take an interest in your child’s passions and nurture those passions above all else. The outcome will be worth the journey!
Dr. Jonine Biesman