A school staff member works to prevent mental health issues by dealing with students’ emotions early on. But does it work?
It was an exciting day for Alice Lee and her daughter Madison as they were enjoying the snowfall at school. But earlier that morning it started a little tough.
“So I went to the refrigerator, I got the egg, I dropped it on the floor. OK, plan number two, French toast, and then we burn the toast. So it just wouldn’t be a good morning, âsaid Lee.
But Madison, braids and all, was able to show her emotional maturity in the face of adversity. âYou are a good mom. You just have a very difficult morning. Take a deep breath and let out those great feelings, âher daughter told her.
She recognized his feelings and let them go. Natalie Donahue is the Social Emotions Learning Specialist at the Naples Community School (CSN).
Since August, Donahue has been working with Madison and her kindergarten mates at the Naples Community School. She teaches students to be self-aware, to manage their emotions and to build relationships. This is called socio-emotional learning or SEL.
âIf students take classes throughout the classroom, as a proactive measure, to learn skills for everyday challenges, they will have less need for mental health therapy in the future,â said Donahue.
Another benefit of SEL is better grades. One study looked at 270,000 students from kindergarten to high school in schools that taught SEL. Not only did these students have better behavior and emotional skills, they also saw their scores increase by 11%.
âThe idea of ââemotional intelligence is something that we know employers need to have in the workplace. So we want to start as soon as possible, âsaid Donahue.
Teaching children is only part of the equation, however. Teaching parents how SEL works is another. âWe’re done raising responsible and emotionally healthy children, understanding brain development, we’re going to dive deep into technology and digital distress,â Donahue said.
Lee has attended every parent workshop offered by CSN. She says these workshops have helped. âI definitely saw a change in her demeanor after the workshops, and she’s soâ¦ so much more expressive of herself,â she said.
Schools in Charlotte, Collier, and Lee County have resources for emotional learning on their websites. Lee and Collier both have counselors and psychologists who incorporate SEL into their teachings.
If you missed WINK News’ âMental Health: Your Mind Mattersâ special, you can watch it below. We’ve also shared some resources if you’re looking for help.
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