Christianity Today | Equipping Hispanic Families to Excel

As the Hispanic population in this country continues to grow, the need to equip Hispanic parents and children with the tools needed to excel academically becomes even more urgent. One of the best ways to accomplish this is through the Raising Highly Capable Kids program.

Raising Highly Capable Kids (RHCK) is a course for parents and is designed to be used in churches and communities, but especially in public schools. The curriculum is 13 weeks long and is based on Christian parenting principles, as well as proven research. It first tested in 2010 by Focus on the Family in response to a critical need of families in Santa Ana, California, and it has now spread all over the U.S. and neighboring countries. What makes RHCK unique? Its focus is on empowerment and it foundation on the 40 Developmental Assets of the Search Institute.

The Search Institute has undertaken decades of research with more than 5 million children and found that there are 40 building blocks, or assets, every child needs to grow and mature. And the more assets children have, the more likely they will engage in healthy behaviors, while veering away from unhealthy ones. Several of these will directly impact the probability that a child or young person will be able to overcome significant academic challenges now and in the future.

Asset number six is “Parent Involvement in Schooling”. This one, more than any others, makes a marked difference in a child’s success in life. Teachers, counselors, and school administrators know that they’re making a difference in their students’ lives, but they also know that their work will make much more of an impact if parents get more involved in their kids’ life and learning. This in itself will result in more children being a step closer to achieving their God-given potential.

One of the eight areas of the 40 Developmental Assets is “Positive Values”. Three of the six assets in this section are “Equality and Justice,” “Integrity,” and “Responsibility.” No doubt that these are values that need to be taught by parents and learned by children, but we cannot ignore the need for parents to model these in order for true teaching and learning to take place. If there’s anything that causes confusion in a child or young person’s mind, it’s having a parent who tells them to do one thing, but does another. RHCK stresses the importance of being a good example for our children, and gives parents the tools to develop these assets in their kids.

Without a doubt, a parent’s main responsibility is to prepare his or her children for life. There will come a day when our children will be on their own and we won’t be around. When this happens, would they be able to thrive without you? Would they be able to plan and make sound decisions? Would they relate well to others, especially those that have a different background, race, language or culture? Would they be able to resolve conflict peacefully? Session 9 of Raising Highly Capable Kids focuses on helping parents know how to prepare their children for life and develop key social competencies so they can be successful no matter where life takes them.

RHCK is much more than just another program. It’s about breaking cycles and impacting generations for years to come. Every time a parent changes their behavior based on what they learn, you’re not only making a difference in his or her life, you are making a difference in their kids, their grandkids, and beyond, especially when it comes to achieving academic success and reaching their educational potential.

Something that has brought great joy to many is how some parents, after completing RHCK, have chosen to go back to school and learn English, obtain their GED or begin an Associate’s Degree. The power of their example will most likely inspire and propel many of their children to aim high and accomplish great things!

In 2013, when Manuel Jara Elementary in Fort Worth, Texas, began offering Raising Highly Capable Kids in partnership with Primera Baptist Church, Luz Vallejo was a parent of 2 little girls in school and was expecting a third child. She was quiet and kept to herself. But through the 13-week program, a change began to occur. Luz looked a bit more confident, the girls seemed happier at school, and they were experiencing academic success.

Soon, Luz began working part-time at McDonald’s and went through the English as a Second Language Program at the county college. Not too long ago, she went to see the school’s principal, Mrs. Marta Plata, and brought her a copy of her GED certificate for High School Equivalency. They had just made her crew leader at McDonald’s, and she plans to begin an Associate’s Degree program next semester.

Luz is now a Raising Highly Capable Kids facilitator for incoming parents.

Ask yourself, “If my church closes its doors permanently, will the community miss it? Is the ministry we do in the neighborhood such that if we ceased to exist the community would feel the impact?” Begin the program “Raising Highly Capable Kids” and the answer will surely be a “Yes.” We are in this world to make a difference for the glory of God. Let us begin today.

To begin Raising Highly Capable Kids in your church, local school or community, contact Gabriel Cortés at contact at (214) 202-8395 or at

Gabriel Cortez is Director of the Hispanic Education Initiative for Texas Baptists.

Read more at Equipping Hispanic Families to Excel.