Article

How To Help Kids In Poverty Adjust To The Stability Of School After Break
Faculty Affiliate Ross Thompson quoted at NPR

National Public Radio, January 7, 2016

The first day back from winter break can be restless.

Many children are still coming down from the excitement of the holidays. Two unstructured weeks away from school — with strange food, rituals and relatives — can be overwhelming for many children, especially when it grinds to a halt after the new year and normality resumes.

But for students whose families are struggling in poverty, time away from school isn’t an exciting blip on an otherwise calm school year. For them, it can be a crippling time of insecurity when it comes to food and shelter.

Chronic stress can inhibit a child’s ability to manage his or her behavior, says Ross Thompson, a University of California, Davis professor who studies child social-emotional development. It can also affect language and memory skills.

Children — regardless of home life — manage behavior by predicting their environment, Thompson says. After an unpredictable winter break, teachers need to give students room to ease back into school — and this might be harder for those from chronically stressful homes.

“Expecting that young children are going to be capable of sitting in circle time is probably not the best expectation,” says Thompson, who added that shortening time spent sitting still and adding more active lessons into the day might ease students back into the school routine.

Read more in at NPR.

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