By Lani Aquino
Every day students are seen lugging cumbersome backpacks to and from school. Oftentimes, there can be a lot more resting on those shoulders than the Ninja Turtle or My Little Pony carrying cases contain. Even as kids grow out of the pop culture-adorned carriers, teachers and parents should still be in tune to the tangible items and emotional components that are the daily products of a student’s learning journey.
While it’s the hope of parents and teachers that students flourish and excel on their journeys, sometimes there can be bumps in the road and even detours that are required. In order to stave off some of these possible roadblocks, a concerted effort needs to be in place to ensure students maintain a healthy attitude and mindset in regard to school and their educations. Helicopters and coddling are not the suggestion here, but an awareness and proactive game plan for helping students find success should be in place. While 5 Things Students Should Always Bring Home from School highlighted some must have elements of a positive scholastic experience, it’s time to explore the opposite side of that equation and zero in on the 5 things that should NEVER be part of the journey.
Unclear Homework- Lack of clarity when it comes to homework can be overwhelming to both students and parents. While it’s the student’s responsibility to complete the work, many parents work hard to ensure that assignments are completed properly. When there are unclear or missing directions, this can be a real angst creator for families that causes students to shut down and/or fear consequences of incomplete work. Placing examples and clear directions on any activities to be sent home, having assignments started in class, and/or sharing online resources are great ways to curtail this occurrence.
Fear- There should never be situations or people (adults or peers) that create a sense of fear in any student. Bullying is all too real, and both parents and teachers need to be on high alert for identifying and curtailing it. Teachers and schools need to be purposeful in developing positive peer relationships and healthy learning communities where these behaviors will not be tolerated. Parents need to develop and continually nurture open lines of communication with their kids. No student should ever be afraid or intimidated.
Sense of Solitude- A student can sit in a classroom with 29 other kids and still feel completely alone. Personal interactions and collaboration are as much a necessary part of education as the 3Rs. These interactions come much easier to some, so it’s vital for teachers to help all students feel a part of the learning community. The social challenges of school can be more daunting than the academic ones. Teachers, parents, and all stakeholders must work together to help build those bridges that allow every student to feel included.
Copious Amounts of Work- This isn’t about giving a green light for procrastination, but it’s about being mindful of how students are being asked to spend their time outside of the school day. Students shouldn’t be losing sleep due to keeping up with their classwork or shutting down all other areas of their lives to maintain good GPAs. Especially in higher grades, there are numerous teachers that could all be assigning lengthy projects or tasks. Many students participate in extracurricular activities, care for siblings, need to work, etc. Don’t create burnout or anxiety by overworking kids. There’s no need to prepare them for the future by soaking up every waking hour of their present.
Feeling Inadequate- No student should be made to feel like they are stupid, dumb, not bright, or any other inadequacy when it comes to their learning journey or any other aspect of their lives. There need to be challenges and failures, but these need to be balanced with attainment and successes. The inner voice that is constantly feeling defeated should never be allowed to be the loudest. Students need to have numerous opportunities to feel a sense of accomplishment by reaching attainable goals.
Every student’s leaning journey will be unique. There are going to be ups and downs along the way, but there should never be situations, emotions, or takeaways that bring the journey to a halt. By building positive learning communicates that foster growth in EVERY child, real differences can be made on a daily basis. Being mindful of these 5 roadblocks that can adversely affect students, teachers and parents can ensure that those wizened shoulders aren’t carry more than they should.
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