Thursday, April 11, 2013

Building Resilience

Our turbulent world offers challenging situations for all of us, most especially for our children. These complex life events, from divorce and death to violence and poverty, are negatively affecting our social and emotional health. In schools, we can counteract these effects by helping students develop strong coping and problem-solving skills. In doing so, we can reduce the negative effects of the real life issues that our children face.

Compelling research focusing on both adults and children shows that when we strengthen our emotional awareness and deepen our social skills, we can reduce anxiety and depression. When anxiety and depression are reduced, we are more effective at work, in school, and in life.  
As we build our social and emotional skills and strategies, we are able to persevere, to problem-solve, and to negotiate. We build resilience.
We are resilient when we
  • understand our own emotions, and with this understanding, we can control them.
  • have impulse control, meaning that we first think before we act.
  • are realistically optimistic, and we know that things will get better.
  • are flexible in thinking, and we see options and alternatives when faced with problems.
  • believe in our ability to make it through challenging situations.
  • have empathy for others who are handling their own life difficulties.
  • know when and how to reach out for help.
Building resilience should be a priority for all involved in educational endeavors. Resilient schools have more effective teachers and administrators. Resilient students are happier, more hopeful, and open to learning. By building resilience, we increase our ability to cope with and to thrive in the complex lives we are living, both in and out of school.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Social Emotional Health Is a Global Issue

A recent international summit established educational standards of equity and quality with a focus on early childhood for schools around the world. Most notably, this global consensus honored the cross cutting nature of education, from promoting literacy to teaching physical well-being. More than achieving basic mathematical skills and attaining other content area knowledge, this international panel charged schools with helping children deal with real-life issues of poverty, war, violence, and disabilities, among many other realities. Our children must be taught resilience in order to thrive in a turbulent world.

The key to resilience is being socially and emotionally healthy; it is the basis of all successful human endeavors. By acknowledging this on an international level, we are now reminded that the educational process must also emphasize social and emotional literacy. This acknowledgement also reminds us that without having self-awareness, relationship skills, and other important components of social emotional health, our children will be unable to navigate through our current environment.

Beyond geographic borders, socioeconomic status, and any other demographic and man-made check boxes, this international summit has highlighted the moral imperative for all of us to tend to the social and emotional health of our children- it is needed now more than ever.