Addressing the Emotional and Social Challenges
That Affect Low-SES Student Learning
Teaching students living in poverty presents unique challenges for educators. One such challenge is helping students overcome the social and emotional instability that many low-SES students face when growing up (Jensen, 2011). For many of these students, response to such conditions manifests in poor school performance and behavior. However, there are strategies that teachers and administrators can implement to curb disruptive behavior and build the necessary emotional resources that all students need for academic and personal success. The emotional and social deficits that educators experience when working with students from poverty formed at a very early age. Young children require healthy learning and exploration for optimal brain development to occur (Jansen, 2011). Unfortunately, there are not many of these opportunities for impoverished families, as there tends to be a prevalence of adverse factors such as teen motherhood, depression, and inadequate health care, which lead to decreased sensitivity toward an infant (van Ijzendoorn et. al, 2004). This insensitivity interferes with healthy brain development as it abates the necessary bond between child and parent and consequently, negatively influences the quality of future relationships between teachers and peers (Szewczyk-Sokolowski, Bost, & Wainwright, 2005). Many times, deficiencies in early brain development are coupled with lack of quality role models for students in poverty and result in a perpetuation of social and emotional instability. Role models play an essential and integral part in the development of emotional resources. The brains of infants are hardwired for only six emotions: joy, anger, surprise, disgust, sadness, and fear (Ekman, 2003). Every other emotional response must be taught. When appropriate role models are present, the child can go through the developmental stages at appropriate times and build...
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