Differences Shouldn’t Mean Social Isolation
For elementary and middle school students such as Auggie, the main character from Wonder, the thought of going to school in the morning fills them with dread and anxiety – not because of the classroom work, but because of the social environment. In the United States, young people spend half of their waking hours in school. Lunch and recess give students a way to break up the day, socialize and recharge before going back to class. But, for some students, especially students who may have differences or have lower social skills than their peers, lunch and recess are hardly a time to unwind. It is a time to dread.
The social pressures of the playground and the lunch table combined with social status redefined on today’s digital play ground, can make lunchtime more stressful than academic work itself.
How can we help a child or teen who doesn’t want to go to school because even lunch seems like misery?
Parents have a role: they can become advocates of their child by bringing to their school’s attention the issue of social isolation and the programs Beyond Differences offers. School counselors, teachers, and administrators are all likely to be interested important program.
Educators have a role: teachers can become involved by bringing one of Beyond Differences’ national awareness days, along with Beyond Differences’ teacher’s guides to empower children to be more inclusive.
Social isolation is often a precursor to bullying. Socially isolated students typically do not have anyone to sit with at lunch, no one to play with at recess, and often find themselves alone at this crucial time for adolescent social development. According to a 2013 research study on children and social isolation, negative health consequences are serious and include risk of heart disease, sleep disturbances and obesity.
These students also run higher risks of engaging in truancy, self-harm and community violence.
Imagine a middle school with endless social opportunities for every child regardless of how a child looks, what they eat, or their family’s socio-economic status. Imagine one where students always have someone to sit with at lunch. One where no one was left out. As ambitious as it seems, Beyond Differences is committed to empowering youth to end social isolation.
Bring Be The One Day to your child’s middle or elementary school on April 22, 2016. Visit joinbetheone.org and see how exciting this special event can be for your child’s school. We adults may not have had the benefit of Beyond Differences when we were growing up, but our children do and it’s time to take advantage of these three student-led, smartly written, student programs to end social isolation today.