How Will Emotional and Relational Education for Children Make us Globally Competitive?

Education is fundamental to our country’s national fiber. Without an excellent educational system, how would we foster opportunities for children to grow, learn and become productive citizens? Consequently, how would they keep the cogs turning in our economy? Political candidates stress their plans to reform a current struggling educational system to benefit our children and future. And every presidential administration has proposed improvements. But have we seen positive lasting results? We need a radical change in education in order to be globally competitive.

We need a radical new model of education

A child can learn emotional and relational health.
Imagine a world where by second grade we have already taught children how to be successful in their relationships. What an amazing thought!

The U.S. is not among the leaders in the industrialized world when it comes to elementary, secondary and higher educational institutions. In fact, much discussion centers around things we can improve.

While I do hope that we can continue to experiment with new proven models of education which advance learning for  children and teenagers, unfortunately, we are attempting to change a very powerful, entrenched system. In addition to time, shifting this difficult paradigm will take new thinking, full funding, thorough research and a lot of risk-taking. These elements must move us toward the radical change needed to remain competitive in a global economy. But aren’t we ready?

Because I function in the world of education, I witness firsthand the emotional and relational climates of various schools. Since we serve so many school districts (on average, more than 15), we have the privilege to provide education and programs to a variety of students from many different walks of life.

Why do some students fail in a mainstream educational environment?

Students are referred to us because they are unable to function in their particular school district. They need and benefit from a different and more relational environment in order to achieve academic (and often, personal) success. This is what we provide. I think this fact in and of itself speaks loudly.

At least a part of a student’s reason for needing a special environment is because he/she is unable to have good relationships with family, friends or a school community. Since almost all children have to attend some kind of school, it would seem helpful if future school environments would teach emotional and relational health at a very early age.

I believe it would make a radical difference to help children:

  • Learn their strengths
  • Deal with situations that anger them
  • Find ways to handle conflict
  • Learn to problem-solve
  • Communicate effectively
  • Discover the research on brain states, and
  • Learn relational values that can help them form trusting relationships with their peers and family members.

I honestly think this type of training and practice at early ages would positively impact our families, schools and communities. It would also place us in a better competitive position globally.

The information could be easily integrated into schools in our nation.

Interestingly enough, the research and information for such emotional and relational classes already exists and could easily be integrated into schools throughout our country.

Wouldn’t society be different if we were all to learn and practice principles and values of emotional and relational health? I honestly believe our social problems would be significantly reduced. It follows, then, that we would spend far less dollars in social services, prisons and mental health services.

Think of what those dollars-saved could mean to our future.

A basic change in our educational system really could make such a dramatic difference. Best of all, a simple implementation of this learning would have life-changing benefits to our children. It would enhance relationships in every area of their lives while creating more opportunities for achievement and success.

Imagine a world in which, by second grade, we have already taught children how to be successful in their relationships. What an amazing thought!

Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network

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