Why School Connectedness Matters: The Impact on Students’ Emotional Well-being
1 in 4 young people feel they don’t belong in school: a figure that appears to be rising. Research shows this sense of detachment has consequences for the mental health of your students. It’s causing ruptures in their behaviours and attitudes towards school and themselves. Let’s understand the critical role connectedness plays so that you can further support your student’s mental well-being.
What is school connectedness?
Let’s start from the beginning: school connectedness. What do we mean by this, exactly? School connectedness refers to the perception of students that their peers and educators in the educational institution have a genuine interest in their personal development and academic progress (CDC, 2009). Students are more likely to take on healthy behaviours and strive for academic success when feeling connected to their learning environment. The greater a student’s sense of detachment, the more likely they’ll feel they don’t belong (Berndt and Keefe 1995; Cauce 1986; Wentzel et al. 2004).
Why is school connectedness important?
Emotional regulation: fostering a sense of belonging.
Intrinsic motivation leads to empowerment.
Increasing self-worth and reducing loneliness
How a lack of connectedness negatively impacts mental health
How to encourage school connectedness
Simply attending school is not a considerable problem for most students. From day one of their academic journey, with encouragement from home, children can uphold consistent attendance. However, some students hold more risk of habitual absenteeism, leading to feelings of alienation and detachment. As young individuals uncover and realise their own character and abilities, they require support. The key word here is ‘individuals’, as every child has their own preferred way of learning and social assimilation . If this style isn’t supported, they’ll be more likely to pull themselves away from the school environment.
Therefore, it’s crucial for schools to adapt to the needs of all students. Granted, this will be different for every school. Some may require secure communication and partnership between home and school, offering breakfast clubs or activities that allow a more prominent sense of belonging outside of learning hours. Others may benefit from altering the layout of their schools to facilitate a wider range of learning styles. Furthermore, creating spaces that allow for ease of collaborations with peers in both an academic and socialisation environment. Communal events such as school trips should be celebrated, and opportunities for extracurricular activities must be encouraged . After all, a learning environment that fosters positive attitudes through adaptive, inclusive techniques will help instil life-long attitudes that stave off feelings of detachment.
How to make it happen
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