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Here are some of the things we’ve been reading about this week:
Daytime naps may preschoolers’ boost early literacy skills.
A bipartisan bill in Congress would keep universal school meals through Sept. 30, 2023.
To address the pandemic-related mental health crisis among students, California teachers are taking a course called Youth Mental Health First Aid.
To read more, click on the following links.
Research & Practice
Daytime Naps May Boost Early Literacy Skills in Preschoolers
UPI: Many parents of preschoolers insist that naps are essential to recharge their little ones during the day and improve their mood. It turns out that daytime shut eye may also boost early literacy skills. New research by scholars in Australia and England suggests that naps help preschoolers map letters to sounds, a key to reading success later on. The new study included 32 children ages 3 to 5 from two Sydney daycare centers. When asked to identify unfamiliar words containing sounds they had learned, kids who napped did better. But napping did not appear to affect explicit learning, such as producing or recognizing letter sounds they hadn’t learned earlier.
SEL Builds Foundations for Boosting Shy Students’ Confidence
K-12 Dive: Teachers can help students feel more comfortable participating in discussions by changing how they encourage sharing and peer support. Restructuring how teachers address students’ mistakes can also shift the focus toward praising students who share — even if an answer is wrong — and stop any putdowns from fellow students. Offering alternate ways for shy students to participate, including giving them a heads up they’ll be called on so they have time to prepare, is another recommendation. In addition, creating small groups can boost student confidence by allowing students to share ideas first with a smaller circle and then develop more self-assurance.
Preventing Suicide Among Young Children: 5 Takeaways for Educators
Education Week: The national mental health crisis has impacted students of all ages, yet efforts to address suicide have largely focused on high schoolers. The mental health issues of a schools’ most vulnerable population, its youngest students, are often overlooked. Schools in 22 states have mandated suicide-prevention policies. These often entail annual staff trainings on suicide prevention and how to have suicide-related conversations with high school students. While suicide risk and ideation is higher in teenagers, data from a recent study show that over 8% of 9- and 10-year-olds had previously had suicidal thoughts, and more than 1% had attempted suicide, indicating that millions of younger students need these resources, too.
Michigan Students Who Are Homeless More Likely to be Disciplined
Chalkbeat: Students who are homeless face suspension and expulsion at much higher rates than do their peers in Michigan schools. Statewide, 17% of students who have experienced homelessness were suspended or expelled in 2017-18, compared with 8% of all students in Michigan’s district-run public schools. Those are among figures highlighted in an interactive map recently created by the Poverty Solutions Center at the University of Michigan based on its earlier data analysis from that school year. Other studies have shown that students experiencing homelessness in Texas, Indiana, and Washington, for example, are at least twice as likely to be suspended as their peers. Researchers want administrators to consider the reasons behind student misbehavior.
Universal School Meals Back on Table in Bipartisan Senate Proposal
K-12 Dive: A bipartisan bill would keep universal school meals through Sept. 30, 2023. This provision and other meal waivers, all set to expire June 30, give schools and summer meal programs flexibility to handle ongoing supply chain issues and feed all children in schools operating U.S. Department of Agriculture meal programs. However, as school nutrition advocates express urgency to pass the Support Kids Not Red Tape Act as soon as possible, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) is exploring options to tack the measure onto the Senate’s upcoming $10 billion COVID-19 relief package, a spokesperson for the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry said. See related article: Politico “Senators Revive School Lunch Debate With Bill to Extend Universal Free Meals.”
LGBTQ+ Groups Sue Florida Over So-Called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Law
Education Week: Gay rights advocates recently sued Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to block a new law that forbids classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. The law has catapulted Florida and DeSantis to the forefront of the country’s culture wars. Critics call it the “Don’t Say Gay” law and argue that its true intent is to marginalize LGBTQ+ people and their families. The challenge filed in federal court in Tallahassee on behalf of Equality Florida and Family Equality alleges that the law violates the constitutionally protected rights of free speech, equal protection, and due process of students and families. “This effort to control young minds through state censorship — and to demean LGBTQ lives by denying their reality — is a grave abuse of power,” the lawsuit says.
Biden Administration Announces Expanded Resources for Transgender Students
K-12 Dive: Recognizing Transgender Day of Visibility, the Biden administration announced initiatives and resources to advance equality for transgender Americans, including students. The new initiatives are plans for expanded training focused on the challenges transgender and nonbinary students are confronted with and how schools can support them from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Supportive Schools. In addition, the Biden administration’s fact sheet announcing the initiatives highlights that bullying, rejection, and denial of healthcare place transgender youth at increased risk of suicide and mental health challenges.
Around the Nation
With Students in Turmoil, Teachers Train in Mental Health
Education Week: Since the pandemic started, experts have warned of a mental health crisis facing American children. Considering this crisis, a small but growing number of California teachers are taking a course called Youth Mental Health First Aid, which teaches adults how to spot warning signs of mental health risks and substance abuse in children and how to prevent a tragedy. The California Department of Education funds the program for any school district requesting it, and the pandemic has accelerated moves to make such courses a requirement. The training program is operated by the National Council for Mental Wellbeing and is available in every state. See related article: Edutopia “3 Ways to Boost Student Well-Being and Lower Stress in Middle School | Edutopia.”
One Way to Address Student Mental Health? Bring the Clinic to School.
Chalkbeat: School-based health centers make it convenient for students to leave class and walk down the hall for therapy, a medical checkup, or a dental appointment. While the first centers in Michigan opened decades ago, policymakers have renewed interest in them in the wake of COVID and the ongoing student mental health crisis. As advocates push for a major funding increase, the outcome of this year’s budget negotiations could shape Michigan’s system for supporting student mental health for years to come — even after federal COVID funds run out. It would mean new health centers in roughly 100 districts that have expressed an interest in opening one but weren’t awarded funds.
Less Funding, Less Representation: What a Historic Undercount of Latinos Means for Schools
Education Week: The U.S. Census Bureau reported in March a significant undercount of Latinos in the 2020 census data, an outcome with wide-ranging implications for K-12 education. The 2020 undercount of 4.9 percent for Latinos was about three times greater than the undercount of 1.5 percent in 2010. Experts point to three big ways the Latino undercount complicates schools’ goals to serve these students. First, states and regions with large Latino populations likely now have legislative electoral districts that are larger than what the numbers say they are. Second, school districts with large Latino student populations will likely not get their fair share of resources. Third, policy decisions impacting Latino students and their classmates will be off the mark since the numbers these decisions were based on are off.
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