Children and adolescents in the United States face significant challenges related to academic achievement and mental health. For example, only 36% (reading) and 40% (mathematics) of 4th grade students scored at or above proficiency on standardized tests in 2015 (McFarland et al., 2017). Approximately 1 out of every 17 students will not complete high school and about 13% of the school population, representing 6.6 million youth, require special education services for one or more disabilities that invariably affect their learning and mental health (McFarland et al., 2017). Roughly 1 out of every 5 students will experience a clinically significant mental disorder chiefly including anxiety disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and mood disturbances such as depression (Kessler et al., 2012). Thus, it is clear that our student population needs ongoing, effective support to meet and overcome these challenges successfully. Who will answer the call to address these needs? Fortunately, school psychologists are ideally suited to enhance student academic and mental health given their extensive training and experience in educational and mental health support strategies.
Resources for Teachers
Anyone who has had the chance to work in more than one psychology department – either as undergraduate, graduate, or faculty member – comes to realize that every workplace is different. There are different norms, different dress codes, different colleagues, and different leadership styles. But whatever work setting you end up in, you are guaranteed to find one strong commonality:
everyone is so busy.
And you will find this commonality immediately because everyone will want to tell you how busy they are.
It is normal for some students to experience back-to-school stress. Many challenges come with the start of a new school year. This article is geared toward the typical stressors of starting or returning to school, and is not intended to focus on students showing severe cases of anxiety or depression. Many of the school-related challenges described below can cause students distress, irritability, reduced focus or academic performance. Though many of these changes simply take time to adapt to, others are readily addressable.
In the past eight years that I have been working in the education sector, I have always been confronted with the challenge of making a meaningful learning experience for my students. That is, creating connections between students’ learning journey and their lives.
A few years ago, as I was teaching an introductory course in psychology, I asked myself: ‘In what ways could learning about Freud’s theory help them with their future career?’ Answers are not always straightforward since psychology is arguably more theoretical than practical.
“Take a Break,” says a small sign in a small corner of a second-grade classroom. A small corner that represents a big change at Dan D. Rogers Elementary School in Dallas, Texas. Last year we began small changes such as these as part of a school-wide effort to have a uniform approach to Social-Emotional Learning on our Campus. With the help of my leadership team, a group of core teachers, and our district’s Psychological and Social Services Department, we met over the summer and began to formulate lessons, gather tools, and purchase materials to begin our program which we now call, “Our Mind Time.” This a title that was coined by one of our district social workers, Veva Lane.
What do young children need to be successful in school? Most people would say learning the ABCs and counting to 10. However, other important cognitive skills also are important. Inhibition (also sometimes labeled “inhibitory control” or “impulse control”) is a skill that is very important for children’s early success in school.
In a quite popular Ted Talk, Every Kid Needs A Champion, Dr. Rita Pierson says many great things about relationships and education. I have no doubt she was an incredible educator and mentor to students and teachers. You can see it and feel it in the way she delivers her talk; she’s got it. I believe this quote best summarizes her talk:
Last month I gave a conference talk where I was one of several invited, keynote speakers. The audience was around 300 people, and I felt prepared, but a bit nervous. Giving talks like this are not necessarily new for me, but only a few times have I been featured in such a prominent role. Once I got going with the talk two things happened that I was unprepared for. First, there was a technical issue with my some of my PowerPoint slides where the words were misaligned on some of the figures. My guess is that whatever version of PowerPoint the conference was using must have been different from mine, which I didn’t notice until I was well into the talk. Second, I ended up getting through my talk much faster than anticipated. I was slotted for an hour and planned to talk 40 minutes and then take questions, but ended up only talking around 25 minutes. Questions did fill up the rest of the time, but still, it wasn’t what I planned, and I wondered if people would feel disappointed.
For some, summer already feels likes it’s over and the school bell is about to ring. For others, the start of school feels like it is barely on the horizon and that many long summer days are in between. Regardless of how you are feeling about the start of school, there are some easy things that you can do to make the transition into school easier for your Kindergartener. The way that children start school can contribute to establishing a positive trajectory in school. It is a good investment of a bit of your time over the summer to help get their school year off to a great start. Here are 7 Things to do this summer to get your child ready for Kindergarten: