Connectedness = hope
A growing body of research in neuroscience, psychology and sociology has demonstrated that attachment is a powerful universal need in humans, a psychological and biological necessity that regulates emotions, behaviour and physiology. It is related to a sense of belonging, which is a developmental need. An atmosphere of connectedness provides the framework to promote student competency and social responsibility while decreasing anti-social behaviours.
Human connection is key to the human condition
Connectedness facilitates emotional, social and cognitive development. Connectedness is a protective factor for vulnerable youth. It motivates and empowers, facilitates academic engagement and better coping mechanisms. In a nutshell, it builds hope.
The literature on hope identifies the following as correlates of hope: performance (academic and athletic), adjustment (positive affect), self-worth and social connections. Tied to these correlates are resilience factors such as social competence, autonomy/identity, problem solving skills, and sense of purpose and future. Hope is enhanced in environments that include caring relationships, clear expectations, predictable consistent monitoring and opportunities for skill development, participation and emergence.
Meeting the real needs of children
Children need to know that they matter, that they have a voice and that they can affect change and make a difference in their school community by providing them with opportunities for their resilience to unfold. We need to promote such protective factors as self-esteem and self-awareness (including a working understanding of their learning profile), parental advocacy for their children, high expectations for academic development and comprehensive programs that extend into the community. Children need opportunities to care for others as well as be cared for themselves. Our responsibility is to operate from an ethic of care that enhances healthy relationships, moral development and creates moral citizens.
We need to connect children and youth to champions in the community for the right reasons. Instead of insisting that youth simply fatten their resumés for university entrance, we might encourage them to give back to their community. Helping others fosters compassion and empathy in children and youth. It teaches there is a world beyond me… that there is a ‘we’.
Share how you have connected children and youth to their community.