IT’s Time to Start Giving Kids Mental Health Education
Teachers should then record that daily information in a personal, morning journal to discover patterns of expression that may result in the need for further understanding alongside parents, principals, and social workers (unfortunately some districts have a social worker to student ratio of 1:400). The reluctance of the parent, always a problem, may be assuaged by the concrete evidence of behavioral patterns. In this day and age, an email or text titled “Today, your child says he/she is feeling…” could be sent to parents by 9:10 a.m.
Thus, the child’s mindset frames the teacher’s eye toward his or her homework, learning behavior, social skills and family life. Teachers can assign reading based on emotional states—a student having a tough day might quickly take to old friend, Alexander. Teachers can partner children heterogeneously based on feelings and states of mind. Relationships will develop. Kids will open up.
Sure, update it as children outgrow its elementary form, but keep true to its intention. In the immediate sense, red flags will become more accessible, and feelings easier to discuss. The goal is for children to understand their own anger, frustration, and sadness. The earlier a child can’t, the sooner it will be clear that child needs help beyond a teacher’s ability.
It’s a complicated topic. Communication is difficult in impoverished school districts and class sizes can be unmanageable. But I would direct those who feel that this is a wussification of the educational system toward the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). It’s a far more exhaustive and interesting analysis of mental health and education than my own rudimentary post.