Mental health conditions affect nearly five million children in the United States and can extend into adulthood. Childhood is a period of pivotal mental, emotional, and physical growth and development, making it an essential time to start discussing mental health.
This year, New York State made a huge advancement with this important dialogue by becoming the first state to mandate mental health education as a part of each schools’ curriculum; starting as early as elementary school and continuing throughout high school.
Similar to public schooling, home education upholds the same commitment to helping children succeed. More often than not, a parent is the primary teacher when homeschooling, with both roles working together to improve the well-being of children. Therefore, with mental health becoming a staple facet of public education, homeschoolers have a personal responsibility to teach kid’s about mental health too.
When you consider the advantages of homeschooling, mental health only seems like a fitting addition. Homeschooling allows for flexibility and adaptability, a comfortable environment, and personalized attention, all of which can allow for more receptive learning about mental health. Take advantage of the ability to swap out quizzes, tests, and textbooks for innovative materials about kids’ mental health, like podcasts. You can homeschool children and teach mental health according to tools that work best for your child.
Some homeschoolers use interest-led learning alongside traditional academics, meaning that they allow a child’s interest to lead the learning process. Parents can shape homeschooling so that education is in tune with a child’s passion, like art, music, or writing. When we provide the opportunity for children to be hands-on by creating something that correlates with what they are learning, we can help them to make better connections to the subject. And, by teaching children about mental health through their passions, we are simultaneously introducing them to healthy coping skills for mental health challenges.
Knowing how to teach children about mental health may be unfamiliar for some, but mental health is a topic too valuable to not be taught on the same level as any other school subject. “Teaching kids accurate and age-appropriate lessons about mental health… (under the guidance of knowledgeable adults) is usually a better option than allowing kids to learn about it from TV shows, movies, social media and elsewhere that may or may not provide kids with the tools they need,” notes physician and clinical professor of pediatrics and psychiatry, Linda Chokroverity. Fortunately, the flexibility of homeschooling provides a comfortable and productive environment to learn about subjects as fragile yet critical as mental health.
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