According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, one in every three students in classrooms across the U.S. had been exposed to a traumatic event prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. While managing students’ mental health had been a concern for school districts long before then, the global health crisis has made these types of mental health issues more widespread.
Trauma places an individual in constant states of hyper-arousal and emotional distress, which influence neural architecture as well as neural circuitry. Learning tools to de-escalate, calm, and communicate are essential in order to help children function in and out of the classroom. Simply put, a stressed brain simply cannot learn.
The pandemic has induced a collective trauma on all of us and, as schools reopen this fall, administrators and staff must prepare themselves to provide the emotional support necessary to care for their students and educators alike. The effects of the pandemic and resulting trauma will not go away on their own, which is why it is essential that educators take a proactive role in reducing trauma’s detrimental toll on students’ neurodevelopment and learning.
Learning and implementing evidence-based practices and social-emotional learning techniques can help educators and administrators combat the negative mental health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Benefits include:
- Increased self-awareness and self-management skills which, in turn, allows students to take control of their behavior and responses to various situations.
- Helping students better manage challenging emotions, which can often spiral into anxiety and depression while also derailing their attention and impairing the learning centers of the brain.
- A boost overall well-being, feelings of safety, connection and resilience which aid in healing the detrimental effects of trauma.
For the past decade, the fields of neuroscience, relational neurobiology, and psychology have been reaffirming how crucial it is for children to feel safe and connected to at least one loving adult in order to not only learn in school, but to succeed in life. In order to provide quality education, the culture of the school must be focused on well-being for the adults and the children. Well-being is the foundation for building safety and connection within each individual and within a community. Research is also demonstrating that when the well-being of students and educators is prioritized and embedded within the culture of a classroom or a school, student achievement increases and educator satisfaction improves.*
For more tools and resources related to supporting the nervous system and helping to heal the effects of trauma on students as a result of the pandemic, check out Zensational Kids’ new edition of Educate 2B: Mindfulness and Social-Emotional Learning for Educators and Students in the K-5th Grade Classroom available now on Amazon.