LOUISVILLE, Ky. — This back to school season will be more challenging than any other we've known and there's a big concern we haven't discussed. It's not from the teachers' or parents' point of view, but the students'.
When teens were asked how they felt about the upcoming school year, the top three responses were uncertain, nervous and stressed.
The Allstate Foundation was behind the survey of about a thousand teens who voiced concerns over remote learning, the coronavirus, the financial crisis and racial tensions. It found the need for skills such as empathy, stress-management and resilience, which are all critical aspects to success in life.
"Nearly 8 in 10 youth are worried about the current situation, but what was surprising to us was that more were concerned about their mental well-being, than their physical health," Laura Freveletti, the Senior Program Officer, with The Allstate Foundation said.
Allstate works to encourage and educate today's younger generations. It's offering free Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) resources to help cope with what's going on, and it's showing great progress.
"Those youth who have these SEL skills have 11% increases in grades, test scores, in graduation rates, post-secondary completion, employment rates and average wages," said Freveletti. "To me, that's a wow. Something parents should know. It also decreases dropout rates, school classroom behavior issues, teen pregnancies, mental health problems, and criminal behavior."
There's a program for building life skills, another for daily mindfulness, to reduce anxiety and anger.
There are also tools for parents for discussions about racism, providing constructive dialogue about privilege and prejudice. If talking isn't your strong suit, maybe writing a journal is.
"One of the best ways to explore your own emotions and articulate those and understand those is through private reflection," said Freveletti. "So, this guide helps them with that. It helps them process emotions in a very productive and private way so they can understand those and become a family conversation, possibly."
All of these resources are free online. Many are also translated in Spanish.
The Allstate Foundation says Social and Emotional Learning is more effective, if not as effective as academic learning and shouldn't start just when you see issues in your child, but anytime.