A child’s emotional needs are just as important as their social and academic ones. In this constantly changing and evolving world that we live in, it becomes difficult for a child – also going through their own developmental stages – to establish a sure-footed emotional intelligence. This façade of an individual’s development has increasingly been shown to be much more important than previously thought; it accounts for a person’s capacity for controlling and expressing one’s emotions and handling interpersonal relationships empathetically.
In a typical school, a child’s emotional development is a byproduct of a journey, which is otherwise fairly academic. But is that enough? Does that lead to inadequacies in personality development that resurface in adulthood? Certainly. The emotional well-being of a child has to be nurtured and cared for in a systematic, organized manner.
One small alternate school in the East has devised a framework for the social and emotional development, which puts the public education system to shame. Edopia is a school in Pakistan that has developed a unique community-based alternative to traditional schooling.
There are multiple lines of defense guarding against the possibility of emotional instability or distress.
Democracy Processes in School:
The first is the democratic nature of the school. The democratic assemblies, which are held weekly, provide an outlet for children to raise and voice their concerns, relating to both the school’s administrative rules, and academic ones, but not limited to just these issues. It is a platform which acts as a metaphorical pressure release valve, and the steam that is let off is often an early warning system for the faculty of issues that may be bubbling in the student body. The school believes that this platform also affects a child holistically, giving them the tools and the knowledge that their voice would be heard if they so choose, and it is this knowledge that helps them along.
A Mentorship Program:
The second barrier to emotional distress is their mentorship program, which provides individualized attention to each student. They are assigned a mentor, with whom over the course of each school year they develop a bond and have a safe space to talk about their concerns – academic or otherwise. It is the mentor’s responsibility to help not just with emotional matters but also to also guide and advise on aspects such as interpersonal skills, time management, integrity, flexibility and a whole host of personal and professional skills.
Moreover, the pedagogy at Edopia is based on the student and teacher relations. The class size doesn’t exceed eight students per teacher. Most students have a bond with their teacher that goes beyond the classroom; students are seen eating, playing, and even jamming with their teachers. They talk about a huge range of things and a teacher is always available to the students for help with any emotional issues. Social isolation, academic pressures, and even offenses like bullying are identified quickly and dealt with. This is especially important since a child may not always be willing to talk to or seek help from a teacher who is academically teaching them at that point in time – at Edopia there will always be someone they can talk to.
Multi-age friendships also play an important role in curbing emotional distress in students. At Edopia, a group of friends is not a clique, it is mostly a group of diverse people coming from different age groups, ethnic backgrounds, and preferences. It is encouraged that students make friends across grades and most groups of friends have people that are as much as 3 to 4 years apart. This helps senior students form a bond with younger counterparts and help them out with the different issues they are facing, and also passing on their own experiences and providing guidance. This is one of the most important factors that help Edopia deal with stress among students. It also gives other students the opportunity to point out to teachers or mentors when a student is facing a difficult ordeal.