Health and learning suffer when students feel disconnected from their peers, teachers, and school. But increasing school connectedness is often easier said than done.
Fortunately, much time and research have gone into this idea as more organizations recognize the importance of school connectedness. The CDC, for one, has a lot to say on the topic. And Rachel’s Challenge has a range of resources that can help you foster a more connected environment at your school.
This post will introduce you to the information, resources, and ideas you need to invest in your school and students.
How the CDC Defines “School Connectedness”
According to the CDC, “school connectedness” happens when students believe that peers and adults at the school care about them.
This belief is important because it has been proven to increase safety and reduce the likelihood that a student will engage in risky behavior. Early sexual behavior, alcohol and drug use, and gang violence are significantly reduced in schools with a strong sense of connectedness.
Students who feel connected to their school are much more likely to get involved in extracurricular activities and excel in their studies. It also boosts student attendance and graduation rates.
The first step in fostering school connectedness is to create a strategy for your school. There are many resources out there to help you do exactly that. At Rachel’s Challenge, we have school connectedness programs for all ages elementary school, middle school, and high school students.
Why School Connectedness Is Worth the Investment
Connectedness psychology is based on the idea that school is the second most stabilizing force (behind family) for young people. Research has proven that there are several ways a teacher can make a difference in helping students feel more stable and secure in their learning environment, which is critical for academic outcomes.
The primary idea is that attending school can lead to a sense of belonging, which leads to engagement, which leads to flow. Flow is good because it indicates that students are so immersed in their educational experience that little else matters. In this state, students are rising to challenges and reaping the rewards of their efforts.
On top of teacher influence, social connectedness plays a considerable role in helping students reach this optimal level of “flow.” At Rachel’s Challenge, we believe that making an effort to increase your school’s rating on the school connectedness scale can change and even save lives. We offer several resources to help you make it happen.
How Rachel’s Challenge Can Help You Increase School Connectedness
Social connectedness for your students starts with you. And Rachel’s Challenge is here to help. We offer Social Emotional Learning (SEL) programs catered to separate age groups.
We have age-appropriate elementary school, middle school, and high school programs designed to foster kindness, build empathy, and boost your rating on the school connectedness scale.
We know a little bit of kindness goes a long way toward creating connectedness, especially when it comes to our vulnerable and developing students. Our age-based programs can help you further invest in connectedness psychology. These efforts improve a student’s educational journey and work to reduce violence and self-harm. We see it happening in culturally diverse schools around the country every day.
For Elementary Schools
Investing in school connectedness at the elementary level creates a foundation of security as young people grow. Our work has found elementary school students ready to embrace kindness, practice empathy, and improve their connection with other students. This age group is full of wonder, curiosity, and excitement for school. Sometimes, they need a gentle push.
Our elementary school-level programs are fun and lighthearted. You’ll find that your students are eager to engage and get loud! Between our presentations, activities, and lessons, your students will be gifted with all the tools they need to become more connected to each other and their teachers.
Get in touch to learn more about our digital and in-person programs.
For Middle Schools
Middle school can feel full of upheaval! Middle school-aged students are experiencing c-c-c-changes! Physical, social, mental, educational, oh my! As a result, they can sometimes appear disengaged, frustrated, angry, or moody. But don’t allow these apathetic attitudes to disguise the truth: middle school students desperately need social and school connectedness to help them on their journey toward security, identity, and belonging.
We fully understand this age group’s unique needs and challenges at Rachel’s Challenge. We’ve spent countless hours with middle school-aged students and have seen reductions in bullying, suicidal behaviors, and social isolation. With your middle schoolers, we will make a point to achieve these two important goals:
- Giving students a firmer foundation by teaching better emotional regulation skills
- Inviting students to reach out, overcome biases, and show compassion and empathy
In this way, we help create a network of socially and emotionally intelligent students who can help to foster an environment of school connectedness.
For High Schools
High school is a similarly unique phase of life. At this age, students are likely overwhelmed with the demands of their education, extracurriculars, social lives, and family dynamics.
Helping students navigate this chaotic terrain and come out on the other side as well-balanced and emotionally intelligent individuals can be challenging, but our team is up to the challenge.
Our high school presentations are among the strongest programs in our arsenal. We teach students that they matter and can make a difference. It sounds simple, but these important messages resonate deeply. After over 20 years in the field working with students, we have found that they are so often told what not to do that they are desperate to hear what they can do. They come away excited to begin their chain reactions of kindness and influence others in a positive way.
Changing Your School Culture
As we help implement effective change in your school, you’ll find that empathy and compassion abound within its walls; we’ve simply helped you tap into it. Learn more about our proven methods and results by booking an event or filling out a contact form to get in touch.