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Part I: How To Deal With Back To School Anxiety With SEL

As the summer season bids farewell, its time to get back to school. It is a stressful time for students. They have to get back to the school schedule, work through the various activities, manage academic assignments, and more. So, a little anxiety out of the anticipation for a new session at school is expected. It is a natural response. However, if students do not learn how to cope with anxiety at an early stage in their life, it can have a long-lasting and damaging impact on their personality. In fact, depression and anxiety are among the top health issues that youth suffer from.

Students suffering from anxiety can find it challenging to conduct themselves ‘normally’ at school. Programs like SEL Adventures Platform helps students to learn social-emotional skills and be prepared to handle back to school anxiety.

Learning About Emotions

Students who feel a flood of emotions can often find coming back to school overwhelming. They feel a rush of emotions but cannot put a finger on why they are feeling them. Being a part of an SEL Adventures platform helps them get a hold of their emotions. Once they can identify if they are feeling sad, angry, frustrated, or any other emotion, they are better placed to deal with it.

SEL also helps students to deal with baseless emotions of fear that they might be feeling. It helps them become more comfortable, and the school environment seems less intimidating to them.

Make Better Decisions

Anxiety may not sound like much to a person who has never experienced it, but it can be incredibly scary, even for adults. For a child dealing with anxiety, it can be a tormenting experience. At such a point, SEL helps them plough through their emotions and helps them make sense of their immediate surroundings. It helps them get a new perspective.

To counter their anxiety, students may take to substance abuse, bad behavior, skipping school, and more. However, with SEL Adventures, they learn to cope with such situations and make better decisions. It teaches them to fall back on their parents, teachers and peers for help instead of moving away from them.

Forge Positive Relationships

SEL Adventures platform also empowers the students with the strategies to enter in positive peer relationships. Such relationships help students create a support system for themselves. This support system is a powerful tool against the anxiety they feel.

When students have friends around who want to talk to them, play with them, and listen to them, it is less likely that they will feel anxious. SEL essentially makes the school environment more positive and nurturing for the students.

Students Know They are Not Alone

With SEL programs like SEL Adventures Platform, schools can completely change the future of the students who deal with anxiety. Students will understand that they are not alone in their struggle with anxiety. There are many other students like them, tools are available to help them cope with it, and there is an entire support system to help them through this journey. In such a scenario, instead of fearing coming back to school, they will want to go to school. Regularly.

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Jennifer Smith and Her Influence on SEL

https://selexchange.casel.org/2019SELExchange/blog

Jennifer Smith Miller has been tirelessly working in the field of social-emotional learning (SEL), and her method is simple – keep an ear to the ground. She believes that parents and teachers, who are one of the primary influencers in a child’s life, have a responsibility to help our children develop the crucial social and emotional skills. She focusses on the collaboration between the educators and the parents to create a thriving environment for kids to hone these skills to be successful in the future.

Why is SEL Important to Her?

Jennifer Smith is a firm believer in the fact that for children to succeed in life, they need to be emotionally well. In fact, in the numerous conversations she has had with parents and interactions with schools have only strengthened her beliefs. The parents are most concerned about the emotional well-being of their children. Factors like academic achievement, popularity at school, and familiarity with technology all come later. Schools also understand that students who are emotionally intelligent are more successful in tapping their potential.

She is now working towards leveraging this understanding and working with parents and schools to turn it into a bigger movement. Scaling the SEL efforts will only help more students to become what they want to.

Her Work

Jennifer Smith’s work revolves around educating parents and teachers to become more emotionally intelligent so that they can guide their kids better. She has recently published a book titled – “Confident Parents, Confident Kids: Raising Emotional Intelligence In Ourselves and Our Kids — From Toddlers to Teenagers.” Her writing comes from her extensive parent surveys, where parents were eagerly looking for a resource that addressed “big feelings”. But, it is an equally powerful resource for educators to understand SEL and develop their own skills.

The book recognizes the fact that the child and the adult are not static entities; they are continually changing. It offers guidance for adults to deal with emotional well-being at different stages of child development and dealing with their own emotions of anxiety, upset, anger, hurt, and more.

The comprehensive take of Jennifer Smith’s book is what has made her an authority in the field who understands the nuances of social and emotional learning.

She Continues to Strive

After providing a short guide on helping adults to improve the emotional well-being of their children, Jennifer Smith continues to hold workshops and sessions to help teachers and parents collaborate. Parents and teachers do not necessarily consider each other part of the same sphere. But, a focus on SEL may be able to change that. Through her workshops and other efforts, she wants to provide parents and educators with all the tools they need to become more emotionally intelligent and forge stronger relationships with kids to help them become more emotionally intelligent.

Jennifer Smith is working on a long-term plan that will produce powerful results in the future. She is providing parents and educators the space to learn, fall, get back, reflect, and try again. This process builds confidence, which in turn helps raise children who have a sound foundation to become more emotionally intelligent and have a better shot at success in life.

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Part I – What Kinds of Peer Pressure do Students Face at School?

Students are a part of all kinds of peer pressure at school. This article discusses the peer pressures they face and how they affect the students.

The years you spend at the school play a vital role in shaping the person you become in the future. The primary objective of the school may be to impart education, but it also serves as a fertile ground for developing peer groups. Such peer groups have a massive influence on the personality of the student. They are the driving force behind the performance of the students in academics, the activities they choose to be a part of, the way they view authority, how they spend their time, and their perspective towards life in general. Naturally, the feeling of not being able to fit into a group can be overwhelming for any teenager during those formative years. In most cases, they are ready to do almost anything to fit in.

Peer Pressure is a Part of Life                                                         

Each of us has been molded by peer pressure consciously or unconsciously. The key is to teach kids not to lose themselves to please others. Peer groups are an integral part of growing up, and comprehensive programs like SEL Adventures allow students to understand the difference between positive and negative peer relationships. It helps them clearly see the difference between the relationships that are pulling them down and those that are pushing them forward. Schools and teachers should take the responsibility to make sure that students earn that discretion.

Negative Peer Pressure

There are several types of negative peer pressures that middle-schoolers have to endure. Peers can make students do things by way of insulting, threatening to reject, or with non-verbal pressure from others to do something that everyone else in the peer group is doing.

All these different pressures from their peers can confuse the young students and lead them to make poor decisions. This can have a jarring impact on the self-esteem and self-image of the child. In turn, this becomes the reason for their frustration and even anxiety.

Constant negative peer pressure can also stunt the growth of a child. They have a hard time identifying the cause and solving the problems they face. This inevitably leads to teenagers developing a poor image of themselves. This poor image is the root cause of high-risk behaviors in most kids, including substance abuse, trying life-threatening stunts, and so son.

Positive Peer Pressure

Peer pressure has earned itself a bad reputation, but it can also lead to many positive situations.

Peer educators have become a significant part of school outreach programs. In fact, the Red Cross uses peer educators for their programs on safe sex. The organization has found that students are more likely to listen to a positive message when it comes from one of their peers.

Positive peer relationships are powerful. Students can see their peers working hard towards their goals and be inspired to work hard themselves. They can see their classmates involving themselves in different activities and becoming physically fit, and they would want to do the same.

The Power of Positive Relationships

School climate has a profound impact on the lives of both students and teachers. It is positively correlatedto the academic performance, emotional state, and even the school attendance of students. A healthy school climate promotes job satisfaction and well-being among teachers too. Such a nurturing school climate is built on the strong foundation of positive relationships at the school. These can be the relationships between a student and teacher or between one student and another. Here is how healthy relationships at school impact the school climate.

Student-Teacher Relationships

Support from teachers can help students develop an interest in a subject and master it. A teacher’s support can give the students a strong sense of purpose. The students are inspired from within to learn better to achieve mastery in the subject and not just to get a good grade. They will seek more resources to learn, get more exposure from a young age, and together create a thriving school environment.

Teachers can also provide a challenging, risky, and rewarding environment for the students to learn. When they feel challenged academically, they will pursue it with renewed interest. However, when they falter or fail, the teachers also provide a safe space and emotional support. In a positive teacher-student relationship, students are not afraid of failing but learn from those failures. In such an environment, students will discuss their problems openly, not hide away from studying, learn to doubt and ask questions, and enjoy going to school.

The academic press is an integral part of a positive teacher-student relationship. They set high expectations for students, who achieve them with support from their teachers. This results in high-achieving students who do well in life.

Student-Student Relationships

Positive student-student relationships have a direct impact on the self-esteem of a child. Peers have a powerful influence on the child’s concept of self and their behaviors. Good relationships with other students also help them share their problems and learn to process them in a healthy manner.

Positive peer relationships allow students to get more opportunities to develop their social skills and learn to develop balanced relationships early in life. They gain confidence, learn communication, understand empathy, and more.

Strong bonds with fellow students also help students to explore their likes and dislikes. This promotes a liking for the school, and thereby improve classroom attendance. Good relationships eliminate the need to internalize problems and fall into the pit of substance abuse, drinking, and other vices.

Positive Relationships Are Crucial

Positive relationships with teachers and students can completely change how students perceive school. They create an environment of learning, friendship, comfort, and joy. They make school a place where the student wants to go every day. Social-emotional learning (SEL) is integral to forging positive relationships at school. Programs like SEL Adventures make SEL easy to understand and apply in the real world. All the stakeholders in the school system should make a concerted effort to integrate programs like SEL Adventures in their curriculum to create a positive school environment that students look forward to.