At Concordia, we believe that balance is integral to academic and general life success. From a mental wellness perspective, our school counselors and teachers work hard to build resilience in our students so that they have confidence in their ability to adapt to changes, persevere in the face of challenges, and learn new skills.
One of the most effective ways to help students manage academic stress is prevention, which is a proactive strategy rather than a reactive strategy. Essentially, the goal is to help students develop sufficient underlying coping strategies and character strengths from a young age so that they are able to manage inevitable life stressors. To achieve this, school counselors in each division provide lessons in social-emotional learning at each grade level, delivering a comprehensive, research-based, preventative program.
Starting from preschool and continuing all the way to high school, we use social-emotional learning programs appropriate for each developmental stage to teach executive functioning skills, planning and organizational skills, self-management skills, emotional regulation skills, problem-solving skills, and social skills that allow students to successfully navigate their academic environment. These soft skills are critical as they are easily transferred to other environments such as the work environment.
For students who require additional targeted support, school counselors work with students in a small group or on an individual basis, using strategies from evidence-based psychological modalities such as cognitive behavioral therapy, etc., to help students develop better coping skills. The school counselor also collaborates with the learning support team and school psychologist to identify potential barriers to learning that may be causing unnecessary stress. Moreover, the team partners with the student’s family to develop an individualized learning plan to mitigate barriers, support the student, and support the student in self-advocacy.
Partnering with Parents
Finally, school counselors work closely with parents to ensure that school supports are aligned with supports provided at home. For example, counselors may work with parents to ensure that the student is getting sufficient sleep, that they are balancing academics with exercise and social activities, and that home is a calm, nurturing environment that addresses student stress and promotes resilience.
By using a holistic approach targeting whole-person development rather than an overly narrow focus on academic success, we hope to nurture successful individuals who are able to face life’s challenges with grace and equanimity; and when that is achieved, academic, career, and general life success naturally follow.