Why Do High School Students Need Social and Emotional Learning?
During high school, relationships with parents and other family members may become more limited. It is a time when teens are trying to establish a sense of identity. This is also a time when teens push away from adults and spend more time with their friends. As they enter high school, teens are faced with increased academic rigor and have fewer social supports. Increased pressure from academic and peer circles can cause stress and anxiety. Inability to surpass social, emotional, and health-related issues in high school can lead students to engage in risk-taking behaviors like:
- drug and alcohol abuse
- violence and bullying
- risky sexual behaviors
Many teens struggle in this demanding, high-stakes environment, and need additional attention. For this reason, relationships between peers and educators become increasingly important. “ For example, when students lack social and emotional connections to educators, schools, and their peers, it often leads to behavior issues or disengagement, which inevitability leads to declining achievement and, in the worst cases, students dropping out of high school.”
Students’ grades are most likely to suffer in the ninth and tenth grades, and most students who fail to progress directly to tenth grade never recover. On average, only 60% to 75% of incoming freshmen graduate from high school in four years. As of 2011, the National Center for Education Statistics reported that 74.9% of high school students graduate with a diploma.
High school teens need a safe and encouraging place to build their competence and confidence, socially and emotionally, and make connections with their peers. Social and emotional learning is one-way students can overcome the increased pressures of high school. SEL programs like School-Connect® and Teens In Action teach the skills necessary to move into young adulthood with confidence. Not only do these programs strive to provide students with the tools necessary to handle emotions and communicate with others effectively, but the programs also provide skills valuable to the workplace. Students need to practice skills essential to school and workplace success. Creating smaller, more collaborative and personalized learning environments increases the percentage of freshman progressing to tenth grade. Additional program benefits include high-level thinking, employability, and life skills. High-level thinking includes problem-solving, analytical skills, and critical thinking. Employability refers to organizational teamwork and life skills include civic engagement. Combined, these skills build leaders in the community, and in the professional world.
School-Connect® is our high school research-based program that targets students in grades 9-12 and one of its major goals is to increase students’ sense of belonging and connectedness to school. There are 60 lessons designed to improve high school students’ social, emotional, and academic skills and strengthen relationships between students and teachers.
Teens In Action
Teens In Action is a 10-month coed civic engagement program designed to teach high school youth skills that are critical to life effectiveness and 21st-century leadership, including developing commitment to community service. Teens partner with local nonprofits to gain awareness and knowledge to be successful adults, business leaders, and global citizens.
Currently, we are implementing School-Connect® at Blake High School in collaboration with our nonprofit partner, the YMCA through their Teen Achievers program. We will be implementing in three classrooms on weekly basis and working with the teacher to support and build social and emotional skills.