Our youth face so many pressures!
Whether it’s taking the brunt of adult frustration or anger, or coping with poverty, homeless, or drug addiction, they often come to school distracted. They’re also perceptive, so they feel of the pressures those around them. The anxiety they feel is real. These pressures interfere with their ability to concentrate in school. Some challenges even make school seem irrelevant in comparison. As a result, we need to help youth concentrate.
With younger youth, use the concepts below as an activity. With older youth, use them as a framework for conversation. For both, the process encourages them to find their own way through the transition into school.
Use language easy for the child to understand, given the developmental stage and language capacity.
Most of us know people with challenges.
“Lots of us have challenges in life. Many families struggle with a range of issues. Some students have parents who work two jobs, some only have one parent at home. Others have siblings or parents who use drugs or alcohol. Any of these family challenges can affect us.”
These challenges can make it difficult to concentrate.
“Some students might be sitting at their desks right now trying to figure out how to help their parents. Or wonder if their family member is okay. These thoughts can make if difficult to concentrate at school.”
School can make us smarter so we can figure out better solutions.
“When we focus on academics, our brains make new connections and we become smarter and learn to think more dynamically. We learn how to brainstorm and try new things. This allows us to figure ways to cope with challenges outside of school. These skills can help us for the rest of our lives.”
Teach the following 3 steps to help youth learn to concentrate more easily.
1. Establish the difference between school and everywhere else.
“There’s a difference between school life and home life. When we’re at school, we’re here to learn about academics. Along the way, we make friends and learn about life and relationships. When we’re at home, we’re learning about life and relationships, and maybe not so much about book learning or academics.”
Step 2. Establish your visual reminder.
After some discussion and a few open-ended questions, encourage your younger students to find a small image in a magazine. No one else in the school will know what the image is about, but each student will use this image as a reminder to leave their problems behind for a time.
Step 3. Learn to leave your challenges outside the door.
“Now that we know the value of academic learning at school, we will use our image to help us remember to leave our challenges outside the door. Can can even tape them right to the classroom door! Those problems will be there when we’re ready to go home. When we leave these challenges outside the door, we’ll be able to be present and ready to learn in the classroom.”
Use this activity in reverse to help youth concentrate away from school.
Students who struggle or are bullied at school can take a break from it when they’re home by following this same process as they walk out of the school.