Children’s mental health reaches a peak of concern in American schools: why

La Asociación Nacional de Superintendentes Escolares afirma que la escuela es más que solo enseñar a los niños a leer, escribir y aritmética.


The National Association of School Superintendents asserts that school is about more than just teaching children to read, write, and do arithmetic.

Photo: MPIX / Shutterstock

With the mental health of American students reaching crisis levels last year, more and more schools are looking for solutions. In fact, districts across the country are using federal pandemic money to hire more specialists than provide new coping tools and expand the curriculum by prioritizing emotional health.

A recent report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that the 44% of high school students said they experienced “persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness” during the pandemic.

At Kentucky’s Lakewood Elementary School, its 420 students begin their mornings with an “emotional check-in.” “It’s great to see you. How you feel?” chirps a cheerful voice on the screen of his laptop. He asks her to click on an emoji that matches her mood: Happy. Sad. Concerned. Pissed off. Frustrated. Calm. Fool. Tired.

Depending on the answer, the children receive advice from a cartoon avatar on how to control their mood and a few more questions.

The return to normal

According to the review of APthis year’s back-to-school season will restore a degree of pre-pandemic normalcy: Most districts have lifted mask mandates, eliminated COVID vaccination requirements, and ended rules on social distancing and quarantines.

But many of the pandemic’s most lasting impacts remain a worrying reality for schools. Among them: the harmful effects of isolation and remote learning on children’s emotional well-being.

Parents believe that schools should not influence the mental health of their children

As positive as these mental health measures by schools seem, some parents don’t think schools should get involved, even so-called social-emotional learning, or SEL, has become the latest political flashpoint.

Conservatives say schools use this methodology to promote progressive ideas about race, gender, and sexuality or that a focus on wellness diverts attention away from academics.

But at schools like Lakewood, educators say helping students manage emotions and stress will benefit them in the classroom and throughout their lives.

In that sense, Dan Domenech, executive director of the National Association of School Superintendents asserts that they are finally beginning to recognize that school is about more than just teaching children to read, write and do arithmetic.

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