When students are in school, teachers and educators have unique responsibilities. These include considerations like academic achievement, mental health, and overall student well-being. Helping learners, regardless of age, to maintain their health is one of the most important responsibilities that a school has for those who learn there. Here are some of the most valuable ways that an academic institution can promote student well-being.
What does student well-being look like?
Every student’s well-being looks different, and each requires different engagement strategies. The first step to providing the right student and teacher resources is understanding what the learners need. Whether early schooling or higher education, academics and student well-being are closely tied.
Student health, from physical to mental health, requires close attention from leaders within the school or university. Each school district and academic institution may have its own parameters to measure and evaluate student well-being. For example, the New Hampshire Department of Education lists the important dimensions of student wellness as:
- Emotional Wellness: The National Institutes of Health reports that emotional wellness is “the ability to successfully handle life’s success and adapt to change and difficult times.”
- Social Wellness: Focus on healthy student interactions between each other and the world around them.
- Physical Wellness: In schools, physical education is common, and even in the world of higher education, exercise is encouraged in the student body.
- Intellectual Wellness: The Department finds that “intellectual wellness is a person’s ability to recognize their creative abilities and find ways to expand knowledge and skills.”
- Personal Wellness: Teachers and other school staff need to keep an eye on the learner’s personal wellness, which includes their personal life outside of school.
- Environmental Wellness: This is often referred to as the school culture, which includes things like shared values and beliefs.
- Occupational Wellness: Especially important in higher education where learners must have a job at the same time that they are pursuing an education, this wellness component looks at their ability to gain personal satisfaction and enrichment from their job.
Again, there are many different ways to measure and evaluate student well-being depending on the individual situation.
How do you increase overall student well-being?
Now that you know what goes into making a healthy student, it’s time to measure the well-being of the learners in your environment. Measurement is important to ensure leaders in the school are able to see what needs improvement and take actionable steps. Take surveys of both students and teachers to understand where the baseline stands.
From this baseline, you can create a plan of action to increase overall student health and wellness. This plan should include educators, who have a big impact on the classroom environment. The Gallup Student Poll is a survey that the organization took that measured the well-being of millions of students over 40 years. Let’s take a look at two of the most important ways that they found to increase overall student well-being:
- Focus on the school culture: The poll revealed that there is a 15% greater likelihood that students will thrive when their teacher has a healthy well-being.
- Keep students engaged: Learners are 2.5 times more likely to get good grades and do well in school when they are engaged.
Education and student well-being are connected
The method that a leader uses to increase their student’s happiness and health will change depending on the school’s strengths and weaknesses. When learners are healthy and happy, their education is likely to see a positive impact. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “youth who feel connected at school are significantly less likely to experience health risks related to sexual health, substance use, violence, and mental health in adulthood.”
Here are some strategies that Edsurge cites as ways to boost student engagement and well-being:
- Teach coping skills: Stress management is an important ability and will be beneficial for the rest of the student’s life.
- Prioritize self-care: This could include teaching students how to exercise effectively or the value of breaks to avoid burnout.
- Setting intentions: Another form of self-care, encouraging students to be intentional about their day can increase positive mental health.
- Value gratitude: Being thankful is a strategy that both students and teachers could benefit from, especially during times of high stress.
Creating a student well-being plan
When schools begin to understand what makes up a healthy student and the areas that may need some more attention, they can craft a plan to elevate learner well-being. The strategy should be singular to the academic institution and its particular requirements. However, here are some elements that can help leaders create a plan of action:
- Recreation services: This could be anything from a gym to classes that encourage extracurricular physical activity.
- Student counseling services: Consider offering easily-accessible mental health resources for students.
- Health resources: Whether a school nurse or on-campus health center, learners should be able to receive a physical health evaluation.
Both K-12 and Higher Education institutions can slowly begin to implement various services to increase well-being. While some of these strategies may require additional funds, the investment can boost academic success. According to a report by Healthy Minds, “utilization of health services continues to increase significantly at ISU despite decreasing enrollment. This trend is also seen nationally.”
Increasing student well-being may require external resources. To find data and other tools that may help with this, reach out to Agile Education today.