As a result of the pandemic, educational leaders are trying to reimagine school environments in ways that nurture young people’s emotional well-being. This includes students’ feelings of connection and belonging, hope and resilience, confidence and competence, caring and empathy, and character and values. The pandemic has emphasized the importance of integrating social emotional and academic supports, rather than treating them as separate domains. Integrated child-centered approaches are effective because students learn best when they are known well, when they are engaged, and when they are motivated to take ownership of their learning. A focus on meaningful relationships (including family engagement) and building students’ opportunities and strengths are key to this kind of holistic well-being.
- To achieve equity, districts must implement systems that value diversity, rather than characterizing students and families by what they may need or lack.
- Mental health supports and restorative practices for youth and adults can help all members of a school community cope with the disproportional impacts of the pandemic, the economic crisis and systemic racism.
- It is difficult for children to learn if they are sick or hungry, or if they have family members who are sick. Schools can take a community schools approach to partner with local agencies to provide viable health care, housing, food supports, and other wrap-around services students and families need.