• Back to School: Gearing Up for Resiliency And Readiness to Learn

    Back-to-school time is here!  Children across the country are headed back to the classroom and moving another step forward in their education and development.  Now is the perfect time for teachers, counselors, administrators, and parents to reinforce social emotional learning skills in kids.  Here are a few of our thoughts to help you maintain the back-to-school momentum throughout the school year and keep kids motivated.

    Make it cross-curricular. Social skill development doesn’t have to stay in your Too Good lessons.  Looking for More? lesson extenders provide great opportunities to infuse the social skills development concepts into other subject areas.  They could be that quick activity idea to fill a few free moments in your Language Arts, Social Studies, Math, and Science lessons.  Have you ever thought about the science of erupting emotions?  How about the mathematics behind determining consequences?  Regular journaling builds vocabulary and writing skills while providing opportunities to reflect on peer pressure refusal skills and positive peer selection skills.  These skills make children better learners and give them greater ability to interact with others, so keep the learning growing in every subject.

    Involve parents and caregivers. Parental involvement is essential to any child’s healthy development. Activities like Too Good’s Home Workouts bring the learning home to keep parents and caregivers tuned in to what their child is learning and help them practice and reinforce the concepts at home.  Whether it is setting family goals or finding constructive solutions to completing chores around the house, these family activities extend the reach of what is learned in school.  Invite parents and caregivers to write a newsletter articles about how she or he is positively reinforcing SEL skills at home.  Bring parents into the classroom to help facilitate your Too Good lessons and enhance the bond between school and home for your students. The more parents are in tune with what is happening at school, the more your students will engage.

    Promote community connectedness. Social skills are about more than just children interacting with one another. When families and communities are involved in developing these skills in children, they are twice as likely to use and retain them. To promote community connectedness, enlist participation and cooperation from family members, community leaders, school board members and medical professionals. Enlist the media to advocate prevention. Establish a community-wide task force. The Too Good for Drugs and Violence After School Activities offer tools tailored specifically towards enhancing prevention in recreation centers and community after school settings. This means that there are plenty of opportunities to enlist as many community members as possible for the benefit of that communities' children.

    So get ready! A new school year means a fresh start, and there’s no better way to kick off a fun year of learning than to help young learners practice the social skills they will need to succeed as they continue in school and later in life.

  • 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 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.