The school setting has increasingly become more than just a place to learn facts and figures. Educators have answered the call to help youth fully prepare for life after graduation too. This is often referred to as the Whole Child Approach to Education. The tenets of that model are that children deserve to be healthy, safe, engaged, supported and challenged. It’s obvious that local school districts and agencies that work with youth see the value in this approach and are making strides to mold the next generation into productive citizens who can find success on the job, in their homes and within the community.
Being able to adjust to a new environment or other change, having an openness to new things and being conscientious—having these properly developed social and emotional skills can be just as important as the diplomas and degrees on a person’s job resume. Although the state still wants to gauge a school district’s success on standardized test scores, teachers and administrators know that they can’t graduate high school seniors who are only book smart. One example of this was Imlay City Schools’ most recent professional development day focused on social-emotional learning.
Unfortunately, children are often subjected to trauma that no one of any age should endure. Understanding that these instances can stand in the way of youth fully developing and learning, the Four County Community Foundation will host a special seminar in April on Preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences, typically referred to as ACEs.
Then, there are community educators, like the ones employed by Michigan State University Extension who spend their days at schools, daycares and 4-H clubs and the like to address pressing physical health needs among our youth. They’re discussing food groups with preschoolers, helping parents select and obtain locally grown produce and educating families about the dangers of elevated lead levels and much more.
Thank you to those teachers, advocates, educators, parents and community leaders who strive to nurture the mind, body and spirit of the next generation.