About | The Clover Model

Through many years of research and practical experience Dr. Gil Noam and The PEAR Institute have developed the Clover Model.

The model is called Clover to convey growth, luck, nurturance and balance. It is a framework that helps us understand human developmental needs and establishes a common language with which to communicate with and about children and youth. The Clover Model highlights four essential elements that people of all ages need in order to thrive, learn, and develop: Active Engagement; Assertiveness; Belonging; and Reflection.

The model is about balance between the four leaves. While many individuals tend to specialize in a specific leaf, we each possess all the leaves to a greater or lesser degree and our tendencies may shift over our lifetimes. People specialized in one leaf often demonstrate particular strengths and struggles. Striving for personal balance between the four leaves of the Clover can help adults and students achieve positive mental health.

Clover is helpful in identifying the basic needs that kids have. By designing programs accordingly so each one of these gets nourished and children can work towards their own personal Clover balance, children are healthier mentally, emotionally, and academically.

Active Engagement: The Active Engagement leaf represents body, impulse, and movement. Active Engagement is about connecting to the world physically. All young people have growing bodies, and everyone needs to live in and use their bodies.

Assertiveness: The Assertiveness leaf represents voice, choice, and executive function. It is about self-control, negotiating rules, roles and boundaries, making decisions for oneself and having the capacity to act. All humans feel the need to affect and influence the world around them.

Belonging: The Belonging leaf describes the need for friendship, empathy and support. This leaf is about strong, positive relationships with peers and adults, mentorship and group acceptance and identity. Humans live in a society, and belonging to a society is important to all people.

Reflection: The Reflection leaf describes the need for thought, analysis, insight, observation and understanding. This leaf is about giving self discovery and meaning-making. It involves making sense of one's own experiences, emotions and thoughts to create a sense of identity. Humans are conscious creatures; many philosophers have argued that the ability to reflect is what makes humans unique.

Filling a Need: The model is useful for parents, educators, youth workers, mental health professionals, or anybody interested in understanding how healthy development can be accomplished. Imagine, around a table in a school, a teacher, a school counselor, parents with their child, an afterschool program staff member and a probation officer. Put yourself in each person's shoes, in turn. The parents might focus on their attachment to the child, the teacher on academics, the counselor on diagnostic concerns, the youth worker on choice and voice in the afterschool hours, and the officer on "staying out of trouble". And of course the child's own view is likely different from everyone else's!

Each adult at the table has an implicit Theory of Mind, a framework with which to understand the youth. Each is well-meaning and wants results, and yet, the differences between points of view and about what should happen with the child are very diverse.

What we are lacking is a translation system, a framework through which we can all understand and build off what the others bring to the table. This framework has to be simple but deep. It has to allow each professional and the parents to keep what they use to understand the world while getting everyone aligned. This translational system, the ideas everyone can use to help communicate, is missing today. The Clover Model is a framework that can do just that.


The PEAR Institute: Partnerships in Education and Resilience
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