Up until now, there existed an inevitable ‘trade-off’ between student well-being and academic achievement. However, recently this chain of thought has been challenged. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, experts around the world have termed academic performance a product of the complex environment which surrounds a child, influenced by relationships with peers and adults, motivation, the intensity of study, and performance of peers. This implies that academic achievement has a lot more to do with emotional well-being than popular belief suggests.
The relationship between the two is hardly straightforward. So to delve deeper into the topic, we were joined by leading educationalists across the country. Our panelists included:
- Ms. Archana Shrivastava: Principal of East Point School, Delhi
- Mr. Ghanshyam Sanesar: Principal of First Step Junior School
- Dr. Suganthi Narayan: Principal of Aikhyata Public School, Bangalore
- Ms. Trupti Bagde: Post Graduate in Management Studies and founder of Littlekizzu
- Mrs. Rupa Khope : Principal of Vasantrao Dempo Higher Secondary School, Goa
- Mrs. Reji Benny: Principal of Global Public School
Check out: Obesity in Children and its Impact on their Well-being
What is the relationship between health and academic success? Are healthier students better learners?
“ Well-being is a prerequisite for achievement and achievement is essential for well-being.”
The traditional approach to health intervention revolves around the ‘pathogenic’ approach; wherein emphasis is given to the treatment of physical ailments. However, Dr. Suganthi Narayan highlighted the importance of taking a different approach wherein a child’s basic emotional needs are met, putting them in a frame of mind which facilitates learning and development.
- She started by defining well-being as a state of comfort and fundamental to an individual's overall health, further highlighting the different dimensions of well-being, i.e., physical and mental health and emotional and spiritual well-being.
- She also links well-being to the students' social life. When a student is in a stimulating environment, maintains healthy relationships with the people around him, and is given an opportunity to explore beyond the four walls of the classroom, he is bound to attain academic success.
- Letting them step out of their intellectual comfort zone gives children the opportunity to gain and develop new skills, including self-confidence, empathy, knowledge retention, creativity, and critical thinking, all of which play a significant role in the academic caliber of a child.
Mrs. Reji Benny shared this belief and contributed to this conversation by highlighting the importance of a healthy lifestyle, emphasizing a well-balanced diet that provides nutrition, and encouraging students to abstain from intoxicating substances.
Littlekizzu understands the importance of a holistic approach in the rearing process. They work towards broadening this circle of knowledge to all the parents and caregivers by providing personalized wellness solutions for little ones. Keeping in mind the relationship between gut health, emotional health, and overall development, they devise meal plans, varieties of emotional and physical activities for enhancing the nourishment that is provided to a child. Littlekizzu ensures that through their efforts they are helping out the little ones in clearing the channel to become healthy adults.
You may also like: What do we mean by Holistic Education and its benefits?
What measures can a school take to promote healthy nutrition?
Continuing with Reji ma’am’s chain of thought, Ms. Archana Shrivastava enlightened the group on how schools can encourage healthier eating habits via activities implemented in her institution. These focus not just on healthy eating but also instill intrinsic values and ethics in the students. Some of these are mentioned below.
- Children have been rewarded with smileys for maintaining consistency in healthy eating habits if their recess meals include green vegetables and fruits. In addition, every 25 smileys earn the students an appreciation certificate, helping children embrace nutrition positively.
- Notice is given on ‘Fantastic Fridays,’ wherein parents are instructed to prepare meals incorporating green vegetables and fruits and have a candlelight dinner with the family. In addition, the house’s lights are switched off. This not only builds healthy eating habits but sparks a conversation on energy conservation as well.
- East Point School also organized a fireless cooking competition with the centric theme being healthy eating, enabling the children to experiment with food and creativity. Later, this food was distributed amongst underprivileged children—this activity is aimed at instilling a sense of empathy in students.
The other panel members also discussed the role of obesity and how irregular and unhealthy eating habits, especially during the lockdown period, have detrimental effects on health and an overall increase in BMI.
Also read: Tips To Balance Academics And Co-Curricular Activities
Do hormonal imbalances lead to behavioral issues?
- Each panelist proved a different perspective, covering adolescence, nutrition, and interpersonal relationships. For example, with the onset of puberty, children experience fluctuating estrogen and testosterone levels, which cause emotional ups and downs. They experience exhilaration, irritability, anxiety, depression, brain fog in no particular sequence. So outbursts are but natural.
- However, Mrs. Rupa Khope pointed out how family and peer relationships are equally influential. Surrounded by unhealthy relationships and unaddressed emotional trauma, a child is susceptible to specific difficulties. This leads to aggressive and disruptive tendencies hampering a student's social life and academic performance.
- Other causes of hormonal imbalance addressed included:
- Improper nutrition
- Highly stressful environments
- Unidentified medical issues
What has been the effect of the pandemic on academic performance?
- Suganthi ma'am added a valid note, "The modification in the assessment pattern is welcomed as the new pattern of questioning focuses less on rote learning and more on thinking and reasoning skills." However, at the same time, all the panelists were of the opinion that the covid pandemic had done more harm than good to the quality of education provided.
- With the absence of physical classrooms, providing a holistic environment for child development has become increasingly difficult. Due to limited in-person interaction, students' comprehension ability has reduced significantly. At the time of in-school examinations, they find it difficult to write long paragraph form answers, the highest-scoring questions in board examinations.
- The case is much worse for children from underprivileged backgrounds as the lack of resources makes it challenging to keep with classes.
Most educational institutions around the country drill a mantra for academic achievement in students at a very young age, setting absurd and sometimes unhealthy standards for children. However, more experienced teaching professionals have realized the importance of mental health and the overall wellbeing of students as an essential factor to their long-term academic success. The insightful discussion amongst the panelists highlights the shortcomings of the current system and simultaneously gives some guidelines schools can incorporate. However, the same requires parents and institutions to rise to the occasion and embrace more progressive teaching pedagogies that prioritize activities and practices that promote well-being.
This article has been reviewed by our panel. The points, views and suggestions put forth in this article have been expressed keeping the best interests of fellow parents in mind. We hope you found the article beneficial.