Children go to school and/or daycare to learn.

Our early childhood educators should provide a place to enrich our students’ minds. This may be done through the arts, science, math and other academic and life skills.

Because children endure so much adversity, schools can’t simply be a place to learn. All schools must focus on the health of our children and be able to contribute to building children’s physical and emotional resilience in order for learning and extracurriculars to have a lasting and meaningful impact.

A safe and supportive learning environment is conducive to overall health of children in many ways:

Engagement — Adults embrace positive attitudes and acknowledge and validate children’s levels of experiences and needs.

Emotional Safety — Staff is well versed in trauma sensitivity. Instructions includes experimental learning, behavior modeling, mindfulness and more

Physical Safety — Emergency readiness and management, such as drills, safety plans, exist and are understood by all. Keep bullying away from our children

Physical environments should be that the building is clean, well lit, and kept at a comfortable temperature; have access to clean water. School grounds include access to play space. Be mindful that overcrowding is prevented.

Creative spaces and engaging interactive instructions is a must for instructional environment.

For our physical health, meals and food should meet nutritional standards; physical activity and movements are integrated throughout the day.

For our mental health, children should have access to counselors and/or social workers.

We should also have staff members that are trained to de-escalate problems.

Disciplinary actions should always be done in a positive way (i.e, empathy, role play, circle time, etc.).

Encourage self-discipline through self-management.

Just understanding and working toward a safe and supportive learning is a step towards helping children thrive. By implementing some of these practices, whether we are a parent or educator, we can strive to make our school a healthier place.

All the children will benefit from it if we all work together to make change happen.

Ella Benavidez is involved in early childhood learning.

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