Schools are a thriving ecosystem and are an integral part of
every child’s life. The responsibility lies with the school management,
teachers, and parents to make sure that they continue to thrive and provide a
positive environment for a student to learn and grow.
To create such a positive environment requires a broader focus that goes beyond academics. School management, teachers and parents need to work towards implementing formal social and emotional programs like SEL Adventures at schools. Here is how schools, teachers, and parents can achieve a positive school climate.
Schools should focus on assessing the existing school
climate. They can achieve this by taking into account the rate of absenteeism,
cases of bullying, parent complaints, and other such problems in the school in
the previous semester. Schools can also randomly select students, parents and
teachers and interview them to find out the ground reality. They can also take
the help of a consultant. This kind of granular assessment will help them
identify the problems the students are facing and how to address them in the
Create a Plan
Once the school has identified the problem, the next step
should be working towards a resolution. The resolution should include inputs
from all the stakeholders – teachers, students, and parents. This ensures
engagement and a commitment to realize a shared vision. Socially and
emotionally healthy school environment can only be built on such a concerted
effort from all the stakeholders.
Schools can then decide how they are going to incorporate
the social and emotional learnings in their curriculum. Programs like SEL
Adventures help them pick and choose among courses that address different
issues at a school, including addiction, bullying, anxiety, and so on.
A positive school climate requires positive relationships. Such relationships should exist among the students as well as between the students and teachers. Teachers become more accessible to students, which aids learning. The positive relationships among students help in boosting their confidence, developing amazing friendships, and promote attendance at school.
It’s Well Worth It
While the whole process and the collaboration among
stakeholders do require certain degree of time and effort, it is every bit
worth it. However, programs like SEL Adventures do help in a more seamless and
A positive school climate completely changes how a school functions and how a child evolves. It can transform an anxious child on the first day back to school to a confident, happy, and a student eager to learn by the end of it. The return on investment in a positive school environment is incredibly high.
It is common to find news pieces, blog articles, Facebook posts, and more detailing stories of young school students falling into the trap of substance abuse. Students, their parents and people close to them are coming forward to share stories of how addiction has completely destroyed their lives. They want to get their story out so that other children do not fall into the same cycle of self-destruction. There is enough help available today that can help students with their addictions. However, what are the factors that encourage addiction among certain students? Let’s find out.
Predisposition to addiction does not mean that a child will
become addicted at some point, a family history only increases the probability
of addiction. Such students may be more vulnerable to turn to an addictive
substance when faced with a stressful situation.
Mental illness is not limited by age. At a young age, when
kids do not completely understand mental health, problems like depression,
anxiety, bipolar disorders and others can be even scarier. In an attempt to
cope with these issues, they may turn to substance abuse. It falls in the hands
of adults around them to identify such problems, get proper treatment and help
Research has shown that different people react to alcohol
differently depending on their metabolism. Enzymes are involved in the
breakdown of alcohol and its elimination from the body. Some children may have
enzymes that make them more susceptible to alcohol addiction. That is the
reason some people may drink more and not feel intoxicated, while others may
get addicted even with a small amount.
Academic & Peer Pressure
School is a place for children to thrive, but it can become
the stressor if they do not understand how to deal with the situations they
face. Some students may not be able to cope up with the academic pressures of
the school. This can have many reasons. The teacher’s pedagogy may not work for
them, lack of focus, or something else. Then, there are peer groups in school
that may put pressure on them to dress, walk, and talk in a certain way. Often
times, use of alcohols and drugs can come from giving into these pressures or
as a mechanism to deal with them.
Improving the School Environment
A positive school environment helps students focus on their
academic performance and overall development. Attitude of teachers,
interpersonal relationships of the students, general administration, and more
contribute towards the environment of a school. The curriculum and what it emphasizes
on also has a bearing on the school environment. Teaching and focusing on
social-emotional skills help in improving the school environment and gives
students the tools to stay away from addictions.
Schools can use structured curricula like SEL Adventures that have designed dedicated program for addiction prevention. It includes lessons on self-awareness, resisting peer pressure, learning to empathize and display emotions, decision making and future planning. It prepares the students and helps reduce the probability of the students falling into an addiction trap.
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.
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,
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
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.
It is no secret that teaching kids how to plan is a step
towards ensuring that they are successful in the future. So, it is clearly
important. Teachers, parents and schools have to ensure that their students
have all the tools to ensure that they can put together a good future plan.
What are those tools and how can the adults train the children to use them?
Let’s find out.
It is imperative that teachers and parents demand of
students to have some kind of a plan in place for the day or the week. Provide
them a diary, white board or a smart screen where they can jot down a
rudimentary plan. Since it is the beginning, the plan need not be extensive,
but it needs to be written down. It will make students start thinking about
their day. As the exercise goes on, they will be able to hone the skill, think
more clearly, and plan more precisely.
Future Planning requires a good sense of time management,
which students have to learn. Even adults have a difficult time dividing their
time between different activities. So, teaching children time management can be
the difference between their success and failure in life. Parents should ask
kids to set their times for meals, bedtime, studies, and more. Reward them to
sticking to their schedules. This will help them connect time management to a
rewarding behavior and encourage them to develop it as a skill.
Another important aspect of raising good future planners is
learning the art of organization. Ask your children to organize their books,
toys, video games, or any other part of their life. Teachers can create games
that require students to learn skills of organization in class. Introduce them
to different methods of organization and let them create some of their own.
When kids learn to organize, it is easier for them to stick
to the ambitious future plan with ease. They learn how to compartmentalize and
gain clarity where most untrained minds can’t. This helps them to create a
foundation to build a future on.
Future Planners Start Today
Arming students of today with the right tools to plan their
future is a gift. It is common for kids to dream to become astronauts,
international players, doctors, engineers, artists, and more. However, when
they know how to do future planning, they can actually chart out a course to
becoming one. When they do, they also unravel the skills they need to be a part
of these professions. This is huge because they are then better placed to
switch their decisions and pick a path more suited to their strengths.
Teachers and parents need to help their students find their talent for future planning. They can also take help from structured programs like SEL Adventures to teach these skills more effectively.
The program on Future Planning is one of the skills present in the SEL Adventures Addiction Prevention Program and it contains lessons on the basics of planning, establishing goals, and achieving them. It helps students envision a future and understand the significance of staying away from addictive substance and anti-social elements. Good future planning is a potent skill and can transform the way our children lead their lives. It is essential that the skill is taught.