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Educators, parents, and society increasingly recognise that academic achievement alone does not guarantee a successful life. To thrive, students need to experience wellbeing across the physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual domains.
Today’s students are the leaders, thinkers, problem-solvers, and parents of tomorrow. Among them are budding missionaries, ministers and lay people who will use their gifts for kingdom purposes. Fostering student wellbeing can help our young people fulfill their God-given potential.
When parents and schools work together, it gives students the best chance of developing the necessary skills to navigate challenges and create foundations for success.
Student wellbeing encompasses various interconnected aspects of a student's life. The Australian Government’s Student Wellbeing Hub notes it involves physical health, along with “a person's emotional, mental and social health and … how they feel about themselves and their life in general.”
They explain student wellbeing has a two-way relationship with learning: wellbeing positively influences academic outcomes, and successful learning improves student wellbeing. Student wellbeing is also linked with better mental health and the ability to make responsible life choices.
1. Physical wellbeing
A healthy body is a good foundation for overall wellbeing. Physical wellbeing is more than the absence of illness. It involves having adequate physical capacity to do what we need to each day without undue stress or fatigue. It includes taking care of our bodies by building habits that support good health, such as eating healthily, being active, and getting enough sleep.
2. Mental wellbeing
The World Health Organization defines mental wellbeing as a state in which people can cope with life stresses, realise their potential, learn and work well, and contribute to their communities. Around one in seven Australian children aged 4 to 17 years have experienced a mental health condition recently, making student mental wellbeing a particularly pressing issue. Healthy habits can support student mental health, as can having strong and stable family relationships.
3. Emotional wellbeing
Emotional wellness helps students handle the stresses of life and adapt to change successfully. It involves the ability to recognize emotion without being overcome by it and to allow the awareness of it to guide your actions rather than hijack them. With the right support, students are able to develop a sense of self-mastery where they can exercise self-control rather than being a slave to their passions. It involves learning to understand and express emotions in helpful ways, developing empathy, and cultivating resilience in the face of challenges.
4. Social wellbeing
Healthy relationships and a sense of belonging are essential for students. The Australian Student Wellbeing Framework recognises the importance of social wellbeing for happy students, emphasising the development of safe, healthy and trusting relationships within school communities. A positive school culture that encourages social connections contributes to student welfare.
5. Spiritual wellbeing
An often-overlooked aspect of student wellness, spiritual wellbeing gives students a sense of purpose and meaning. It can involve developing character, a moral code, and motivation to serve others. Spiritual wellbeing can provide comfort during uncertain times, greater capacity for love and forgiveness, a sense of community, and focus on things of eternal significance (2 Cor 4:18).
Various factors can influence student wellbeing. Schools, teachers and parents play an essential role in creating an environment that supports student wellbeing. They can also assist students to build skills that will help them have greater wellbeing throughout their lives.
Self-regulation is the ability to manage your behaviours, thoughts, and emotions in different situations. By developing self-awareness and self-control, students can navigate various circumstances effectively. Educators can facilitate self-regulation by teaching students stress-management and mindfulness techniques and giving them opportunities for reflection.
Parents can help their students develop the ability to self-regulate by:
- establishing routines – consistency fosters self-discipline and a sense of stability. Help your child create a regular routine that includes study time, physical activity, and relaxation.
- teaching them about emotions – help your child identify and express their emotions by creating a safe space to talk about them. You could also talk about your own feelings or those of characters you come across in stories.
- modelling – set an example by demonstrating self-regulation. Do your best to remain calm and respond thoughtfully to stress, conflicts, and challenges.
Resilience equips students to bounce back from setbacks, adapt to change, and see challenges as opportunities. Educators can foster resilience by providing a safe and supportive learning environment, encouraging problem-solving skills, and helping students reframe failure as an opportunity to learn and grow.
You can help your child develop resilience by:
- focusing on processes rather than outcomes – help your child see the importance of persistence by celebrating their efforts rather than focusing on results.
- providing opportunities to problem-solve – encourage your child to find solutions to problems independently whenever possible.
- providing emotional support – a healthy relationship with a parent or carer is essential for a child’s wellbeing. Being available to listen, validate your child’s feelings, offer comfort, and encouragement will help them build resilience.
The ability to make responsible decisions can have a profound impact on the wellbeing of students and others. Educators support this by teaching critical thinking skills, ethical reasoning, and by encouraging students to take increasing responsibility for their learning.
Parents can help by:
- discussing consequences – talk to your child about the possible short-term and long-term outcomes of their decisions for themselves and others.
- teaching ethical thinking – help your child develop a good moral compass and personal character by discussing ethical dilemmas and godly ways of solving them.
- giving them choices – you can allow your child to gradually take more responsibility for decisions about things like their extracurricular activities and personal goals.
Bullying can have severe, long-lasting effects on a student's welfare. Schools play a crucial role in creating a safe and inclusive environment. By implementing anti-bullying policies, fostering respect and empathy, and providing avenues for incident reporting, schools can actively prevent bullying. Education on empathy, conflict resolution, and kindness also contribute to a positive school culture. ACC puts student welfare as our highest priority, we take a hard stance against bullying
Parents can support the work of schools by:
- communicating openly – you want your child to feel safe discussing their experiences. Encourage open communication about bullying, listen attentively, and take any concerns seriously.
- teaching them how to treat others – you could learn Bible verses about this. Or instill values of respect, empathy and kindness by encouraging acts of compassion and understanding, especially towards students who may be experiencing bullying.
- being involved – by communicating any concerns with your child's teachers and participating in anti-bullying programs, workshops, or discussions.
Today’s students will be running the world before we know it. By working together to cultivate student wellbeing; educators, schools and parents/carers can help children and young people flourish academically and personally to have a positive impact on the world.