As schools all over the world and, particularly, in our community at Rochester School, prepare to go back to school, many questions and reflections arise upon the importance of why and how this is a needed approach in our society. Therefore, we want to summarize some of the benefits of this comeback, believing that it is an essential part of our children’s lives. Here are some thoughts to think about:
Humans have social brains by nature; we rely and depend on each other to understand and construct the world we live in. Therefore, our brains are wired to connect in order to grow and shape the future of society. This is a premise that Amy Banks, renowned psychiatrist, states in her book Wired to Connect, 2015. As she says, “relationships are not simply the icing of the cake for a life well lived, but relationships are the cake.”
Schools like ours, foster a loving and warm learning environment as a key for strong connections between students, providing healthy and quality relationships among them. This is a quote from one of the books of Dr. William Glasser that guide our Educational Project, Every Student can Succeed, 2004: “As explained by Choice Theory, human beings are social creatures. The need to get along well with each other, to go so far as loving each other is built into our genes. To be happy, we have to figure out how to gain and maintain good relationships with the people in our lives. When we are unhappy, almost always it is because we have failed to do this.” (Chapter 1, p. 23). Being isolated in our homes without proper interaction with friends, peers and adults who guide and help us grow can cause serious consequences in children’s mental health.
David Bueno, Head of the Neuroscience Faculty in Barcelona, Spain, recently said at the International Congress of Compartir Santillana, last August 20th, that the act of learning is a natural instinct even before we are born. Children play, not to have fun, but to learn. And the way they play while learning, is through the interaction with the immediate environment. What do children learn from the environment? To anticipate the future and be able to react in any situation. Schools play a major role in this interaction with the environment and other fellow humans, because of the opportunity to examine things and interactions with peers with all their senses, analyse them and observe the outcome to be useful in society. Thus, schools provide an environment of curiosity and innovation, that transforms children to discover their own creativity, reflect through the playful experiences and embrace high quality learning.
The JAMA Magazine of Internal Medicine, in an article dated April 10th, entitled The Mental Health Consequences of COVID-19 and Physical Distancing, describes the possible consequences of loneliness and isolation in children and adults. Extra efforts should be made to ensure connections with people to avoid depression, feelings of sadness and a sense of lack of control. Schools, through the responsible staff in charge, offer comfort and company, and provide emotional and social wellness through strategies and activities that are fun and age appropriate.
The European Center for Disease Control published an article on the 6th of August, valuing the schools in many ways, by promoting physical and mental health in students. An example of this is that for many students living in poverty, schools are not only a place for learning, but also for healthy eating. Research has highlighted that the active social life of children aged 2 -10 at school helps them learn from peers and generates a positive impact on their personality and sense of identity. Furthermore, school and extracurricular activities provide structure, meaning and a daily rhythm, with strong routines and procedures for children and youth. The lack of such activities can cause symptoms of social withdrawal and feelings of hopelessness.
Finally, Helen Imordino – Yang, cognitive psychologist and expert in the role of emotion in cognition, states that it is neurobiologically impossible to build memories, engage in complex thoughts or make meaningful decisions without emotions. Schools are the appropriate space lab for social and emotional interactions, so as to upbring empathic children who understand the importance of cooperation, collaboration, kindness and caring.
Let’s come back with joy, optimism, gratefulness and caring!
Alethia Bogoya Principal
Iliana Aljure Vice Principal
Resumen: Mientras los colegios de todo el mundo y particularmente en nuestra comunidad del Rochester, se preparan para regresar al campus, surgen muchas preguntas y reflexiones sobre la importancia del por qué y para qué, reconociendo que éste es un enfoque necesario en nuestra sociedad, y seguros de que es una parte esencial de la vida de nuestros hijos (as) y estudiantes. Enumeramos algunos de los beneficios que encontramos de regresar presencialmente al campus, de acuerdo con varios autores y artículos, cuyas hipótesis y planteamientos se centran en la importancia de la socialización y el reconocimiento de las emociones, lo cual redunda en la cognición, para la crianza de estudiantes empáticos, capaces de ponerse en los zapatos de sus compañeros, fomentando la cooperación, la colaboración, la amabilidad y el cariño o cuidado de los demás.