Welcome to a new student’s social and emotional perspective! Your student is not only dealing with the stress of friendships, family, sexuality, and academics but also a pandemic. Students are not equipped with a tool kit that can provide the support to move through the ups and downs of life let alone dealing with a pandemic that forces people into isolation. As adults we are supposed to be guiding and teaching students not only in academics, but also social emotional support. The question that comes to mind would be to ask if we as adults are equipped with a full “tool box” to handle our anxiety and stress. The answer is no. People are not born with social emotional skills that are ready at our fingertips. How can we ask our middle and high school teachers to know what social emotional learning is and how to teach it to the next generation if the teachers are not taught?

Having worked as a clinical therapist in an out of distinct private school for students struggling with depression, anxiety and other mental health issues and now as a clinical social worker in a public school, I can see the unwavering need for age appropriate SEL in our middle and high schools. Fuel The Joy Curriculum provides a two day curriculum that is attached to health standards so that your health teachers can teach the curriculum 1, 2 or 3 times a year. The students learn about the neurobiology of the teenage brain to understand why they have extreme feelings of happiness, depression and anxiety. They will gain an understanding of mindfulness that will help them to regulate their feelings and bring it into everyday life. Lastly, our students are languishing in not knowing what to do with their lives after school. The conversations about how to create a purpose driven life is so important. Students need to begin exploring their interests starting in middle school to learn the skill of how to create tangible goals based on your interests. Somewhere in education this has been lost. As school personnel we have to demand that our students are given tools to create a fulfilling life for themselves. Fuel The Joy Curriculum will give them the knowledge to design a potential future based on who they are now and in the future the ability to make changes to reflect themselves as they move through life.

I know that teenagers don’t have the time or the attention span to meditate for an hour everyday, but they do have a few minutes a day to dedicate to mindful thinking to gain perspective and control over a faced paced life. According to Upwellhealth,“ Students who meditate are able to handle stress better and experience more positive emotions. Other studies have found that students’ creativity and intelligence improved after meditating for 15 minutes twice daily. This discipline may improve brain function, increase optimism, and enhance alertness.” We need to give our students the skills to understand the true meaning of meditation…which is to go within yourself and explore you. Studies have shown that teaching students mindfulness approach to life has improved mental well-being, academic skills, and social skills in adolescent children. Students also show better classroom concentration and healthier interpersonal relationships with teachers, peers and family members.

Shawn Anchor said, “happiness is the joy you feel when moving towards your potential”. That statement remains true at every age, but we fail to teach our students how to realize the potential that is within each of us. Fuel The Joy Curriculum closes the gap and propels our students  struggling to grasp onto a future and move through their daily struggles, anxiety and depression to create a bright future.

Written by:
Danielle B. Stanley, LCSW
Certified Positive Psychology Coach