Helping Your Students Thrive with a Life Skills Curriculum
Every year, students struggle more and more with overcoming normal developmental challenges.
From 2003 to 2012, the number of children ages 6-7 diagnosed with anxiety or depression increased by 3%, according to CDC. In 2016, one in six U.S. children ages 2-8 had a diagnosed mental, behavioral, or developmental disorder. These challenges make it harder for children to develop the emotional resilience and social skills they’ll need to succeed in life.
There are many possible reasons why more children are dealing with poor emotional and mental health. One could be their increased use of technology, which decreases children’s opportunities to practice social skills, self-regulation, and self-awareness. In a recent webinar, Larissa Chase, Studies Weekly Well-Being Curriculum Specialist, explained that screen time lowers children’s attention spans and face-to-face interactions. This lack of human connection and inability to focus raises their depression and anxiety levels.
In addition to normal developmental challenges, some of your students may deal with problems that cause distress, such as:
- Online predators
- Loss of a loved one
- Domestic abuse
These issues make it harder for children to pay attention in class and complete homework assignments. So what can you do to help your students succeed?
Implementing a Life Skills Curriculum
The best way to teach your students how to take care of their emotional and mental health is to incorporate a life skills curriculum into your school. Well-being education teaches your students how to identify and manage their emotions. As they practice coping skills, they behave better in class and learn to advocate for their needs.
As a school counselor, Chase saw how hunger, lack of sleep, and social conflicts caused behavior concerns for students of all ages.
“Many teachers have to help a student resolve an emotional concern before they can teach them their content,” Chase said.
Integrating a life skills curriculum empowers your teachers by giving them the tools they need to help students handle personal challenges and respond to the normal changes in their developmental stages.
Well-being education creates protective factors that also help:
- Improve test scores
- Decrease bullying
- Prevent suicide
How Our Life Skills Curriculum Can Help
Our PreK-6 life skills curriculum is a 32-week curriculum designed to teach your students how to improve their overall health. Each week includes 4-8 student articles with accompanying lesson plans, interactive videos, images, and graphic organizers.
“We’ve built a curriculum that helps teachers break down complicated ideas and explain them to kids,” Chase said. “We want to help students and teachers understand social-emotional learning on grade level. We also want teachers to have the flexibility to teach the most needed content so we have designed the curriculum in a way that each week stands on its own and can be used in the classroom as a preventative model (tier 1 instruction), with small groups of students in an intervention model (tier 2 supports), or as a postvention or crisis response model (tier 3 supports).”
You can adapt this curriculum to fit the individual needs of your district and schools. Topics include:
- Self-reflection and self-regulation
- Managing emotions
- Cooperation and collaboration
- Growth mindset
- Stress management
- Digital citizenship
What Makes Our SEL Program Reliable
Our social-emotional learning program is built with The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) framework in mind. CASEL is a leading source for research-based social-emotional learning, which means our curriculum provides your students and staff with proven coping strategies and teaching techniques.
“We used research in these programs to help guide the construction of the five facets of well-being and our overall scope and sequence,” Chase said. “We want students and teachers to have the tools to thrive.”
It’s Built By Experts
Not only did our team use evidence-based research, but they also brought their own real-life experience to the table. Our well-being architects consist of school counselors, elementary and secondary teachers, athletic coaches, school psychologists, professional athletes, and professionals in special education and early childhood development. They combined their expertise and experience to create a stellar curriculum that will help your students improve their well-being.
It Fits with Other Social-Emotional Learning Frameworks
Our curriculum centers around increasing student well-being in five areas: emotional, mental, physical, social, and academic. We have designed lessons that include learning and development in:
- Critical thinking
Helping students grow in these six dispositions supports other intervention frameworks, such as suicide prevention programs and trauma-informed practices. We know that every school has a Response to Intervention (RTI) plan that is unique to the challenges their students face. That’s why we constructed our social-emotional learning program with many approaches in mind.
“We want to provide something that will work with whatever framework you’re using,” Chase said.
What Your Students Will Learn
Here are some of the many coping strategies your students will learn through this curriculum.
Identifying and Communicating Emotions
Children don’t always know how they feel or how to explain their emotions. In our Identifying and Demonstrating Emotions unit, your students will expand their emotional vocabulary to effectively describe their feelings and manage them in a healthy way. They also learn how to recognize different emotions in others so they can develop and practice empathy.
Chase recommends having your teachers do an emotional check-in with their students when they come to class. When your teachers know a child is sad, tired, or hungry, then they know to do something different to help that student engage in the lesson.
In the Getting Past Anxiety unit, students will learn what anxiety is, how to recognize it, and how to cope with symptoms.
In addition to our periodicals, teachers can help students manage anxiety using meditation videos and other multimedia content on Studies Weekly Online.
“A lot of times, students experience overstimulation that affects the nervous system, so we want to help students learn how to take a break from that,” Chase said.
Developing a Growth Mindset
Students who believe they can improve have what is called a growth mindset. When students tell themselves they can get better at something, it increases their self-confidence.
Students who suffer from anxiety and depression might think they will always be bad at something that’s hard for them now. That’s why helping them change their mindset improves their emotional and mental well-being.
Chase explained that the Developing a Growth Mindset unit teaches students the power of “yet.” If a student thinks they aren’t good at math, this unit teaches them to change the thought to, “I’m not good at math yet,” which shifts the focus of their self-talk from problem-centered to solution-focused.
“Adding the ‘yet’ adds this thought of, ‘I can do it. It’s going to happen,’” Chase said. “Yet” naturally causes a student to think critically about how they will improve.
Integrating Social-Emotional Learning in Other Subjects
To promote student well-being even more, integrate it into other subjects. This reinforces the coping strategies your students learn and teaches them how to apply them to all areas of their lives.
Our new Social Studies curriculum includes social-emotional learning concepts in history, geography, citizenship, and other subjects.
“We integrated well-being into Social Studies by encouraging self-reflection, self-regulation, self-awareness, and greater awareness with the community,” Chase said.
She gave one example from a Studies Weekly issue about connecting communities. The unit included a section on donating, where students learn to care about people in need.
Our Science curriculum also incorporates social-emotional learning by asking students to reflect on what makes up who they are; or, when they are learning about cause and effect, asking them how their actions affect other people.
Students also learn engineering design, which is all about problem-solving. Encourage your science teachers to show students how to apply the engineering design process to everyday life, including what to do when they feel sad, angry, or disgusted.
Promoting Student Well-Being
No matter what your students are going through, you can help them thrive. Give your teachers a social-emotional learning curriculum that provides them with research-based strategies, lesson plans, and other valuable resources. As they model and teach how to improve emotional, mental, and social well-being, your students will excel academically and meet state standards.
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