Monthly Archives: June 2017

  • Using Social-Emotional Learning and Prevention Education Skills during the Summer

    It’s hard to believe, but summer is almost half over. While children and teens are still on vacation for the next several weeks, parents may be concerned about how their kids are preparing for going back to school. While there are ways to combat academic summer learning loss, what can be done to maintain the social-emotional learning skills that many children gained during the school year? How can children continue to practice these skills even when they are away from the classroom for an extended period?

    A growing body of research is driving interest in social-emotional learning as an essential component of student success. Without skills like the ability to manage stress, to empathize with people from diverse backgrounds and perspectives, and to engage successfully in the small-group work required for deeper learning, students cannot be successful.

    The Mendez Foundation is committed year-round to ensuring children grades K-12 are equipped with and building and maintaining skills that go beyond subject-matter knowledge in English, math, and science. Our Too Good programs provide a framework of social and emotional skills that develop goal-setting, decision-making, and effective communication skills. Too Good also builds additional skills for peer pressure refusal, pro-social bonding, conflict resolution, and media literacy. However, practicing these critical skills may not be top of mind for children and teens during summer vacation.

    There are, however, a few creative ways kids can continue to practice the skills they learned during the school year including:

    Goal Setting

    Set a goal to wake up earlier than usual in the morning during the summer to work on a project or hobby.

    Make a plan to read a certain number of books during the summer months.

    Decision Making

    Contribute ideas to where your family will visit for summer vacation this year.

    Take the initiative on what movie to see with your friends.

    Express Yourself

    Keep a journal of all the fun and exciting things you do over the summer.

    Talk honestly to an older sibling about how you feel about them going away to college or a different school in the fall.

    Bonding and Relationships

    Try a summer activity with your friends that you have never done before.

    Use peer pressure refusal strategies in situations where you feel uncomfortable.

    Summer is a great time for children and teens to practice the skills gained through social-emotional learning and prevention education outside of the classroom. The Mendez Foundation encourages children, teens, parents, and families to utilize these skills on a regular basis to ensure a fun and safe summer season. This way, children can continue to make healthy, risk-free choices and stay on the path to a more positive and brighter future.

  • June is Effective Communication Month – How youth can communicate more effectively

    June is Effective Communication Month. This is the perfect time to talk with adolescents about how to be effective communicators. The earlier they learn and master these skills, the better prepared they will be to express their ideas and emotions and alleviate misunderstandings as they progress through school, college and in their careers.

    What is effective communication?

    Effective communication is the ability to communicate clearly and listen well to promote understanding and a sharing of ideas and information. Effective communication skills enable adolescents to resolve conflict peacefully, share feelings and ideas with others, and resist negative peer pressure and seek and offer help. Adolescents who are effective communicators are better able to make decisions consistent with their goals and develop healthy relationships, preparing them for the opportunities and challenges they will face in college and in the workplace.

    What can we teach children about the roles involved in communication?

    Practicing effective communication is not as simple as exchanging a few words. There are elements to consider as we approach a conversation: Is the communication verbal or nonverbal? Is the exchange face to face or electronic? Is the communication between two adolescents or an adolescent and an adult?

    Adults and adolescents can practice the communication roles together to foster a thoughtful and productive approach to navigating today’s complex social environments.

    What are the roles in communication?

    The Speaker- The role of the speaker is to share, explain, and describe. What do you want to say? Why do you want to say it? How will you say it?

    The Listener- The role of the listener is to learn, understand, and acknowledge.

    Being an effective communicator

    Adolescents with effective communication skills are prepared to ask for what they need and are more likely to reach their goals and develop strong friendships. They can enhance their social skills by learning the following best practices in effective communication:

    Be an Active Listener – It’s easy to misunderstand what people are trying to communicate.

    Focus on what the speaker is saying – Listen for understanding. Don’t interrupt the speaker and don’t focus on your response while the speaker is talking.

    Ask clarifying questions - Paraphrasing the speaker’s message in your own words to make sure you understand what the speaker is trying to tell you.

    Observe the speaker - Pay attention to nonverbal cues like tone of voice and body language.

    Be an Assertive Speaker - Standing up for yourself and your ideas while respecting others is a powerful skill. Youth can be honest and forthright without coming off as too aggressive.

    Stand Tall and Look the Listener in the Eye – Communicate your confidence.

    Speak Up and Speak Clearly – Make sure the listener can hear you and understand what you are trying to say.

    Effective communication skills are an asset at any age. Visit us online at toogoodprograms.org to learn more about how our evidence-based Too Good for Drugs and Too Good for Violence-Social Perspectives curricula develop effective communication skills in children and teens to ready them to navigate their world in school and career to set them on a path to secure a prosperous future.

     

  • National Safety Month – Safety in Many Forms

    June marks the official start to summer and National Safety month. It’s a great time to spread awareness and ensure safer environments that can improve students’ social-emotional learning and behavior.

    There are different types of safety to consider for children. Below are some suggestions for children and adults to consider this summer, and to remember as they head back to school in the fall.

    Emotional Safety: Young people excel in an environment that nurtures healthy relationships with their peers and when they have positive role models in their lives who set examples of appropriate behavior, healthy attitudes, and positive emotional response. Whether it is a parent, a teacher, a counselor, or a coach, our youth need adult figures they can reach out to in times of need.

    Peer groups also matter. Young people who are part of a group that values respect for themselves and others are less likely to be bullied and less likely to bully others. Students who can identify and bond with positive peer groups who are positive influences make better, more responsible decisions.

    Physical Safety: Supervision and clear communication about maintaining boundaries while in and out of school promotes safe environments in places like classrooms, hallways, lunch rooms, and outdoor areas. Youth who are self- and socially aware and equipped to resolve disputes peacefully are less likely to engage in physical confrontations with others and are more likely to de-escalate conflicts when they arise. Learning environments that emphasize and encourage more peaceful approaches, such as compromise or agreeing to disagree, encourage children to practice resolving differences and respect others despite those differences.

    A great resource for more information on staying safe from physical harm is the National Safety Council (NSC) website. Throughout June, the NSC will be sharing tools and topics ranging from First Aid training to teen driving. Be sure to visit them at nsc.org.

    Academic Safety: The student bond with school is a strong protective factor that encourages children to interact with each other and their teacher as they learn, motivating them to work hard to reach their goals and resist risky behavior. Students need a safe and supportive learning environment that encourages them to try and to risk failure so they can learn from their mistakes.

    As advocates for student learning, teachers, counselors, and parents are in a prime position to create and promote a safe and supportive learning environment that encourages students to challenge themselves to learn. Having high expectations of the students is a big part of this supportive environment. Students who know that the adults in their lives are invested in them and expect them to perform will work harder to meet that expectation.

    The more committed we all are in the health and safety of our youth during National Safety Month and beyond, the stronger our community will be. Be sure to show your commitment by visiting toogoodprograms.org to stay on top of what the Mendez Foundation is doing to ensure the safety and healthy growth of our kids through prevention education.