Fostering children’s wellbeing in the digital age

Student wellbeing is now the top consideration for parents when it comes to school selection revels new report.

WORDS: Emma Searle, Assistant Principal of Wellbeing and Engagement at Loreto College

The factors parents consider when choosing the right school for their children differ significantly today from previous generations. Where academic reputation once took precedence, parents of school-aged children today place greater emphasis on selecting a school that is committed to ensuring students’ overall mental wellbeing.

The recent 2023 EdStart School Insights Report from The Educator, revealed a telling statistic 69 per cent of parents would consider changing schools if their children’s emotional and mental wellbeing was not being adequately nurtured. Compare this to the 20 per cent who would move for better academic performance, and the shift in educational values becomes apparent.

At Loreto College, we are cognisant of the unique developmental needs of girls during their crucial formative years as well as the unprecedented complexities girls are presented with within the digital age. Our College has developed a tailored approach to wellbeing to support girls through each stage of development and to ensure they are equipped with the necessary tools to navigate complex digital challenges.

Loreto College: A case study

Social, Emotional, and Academic Development (SEAD) program

Loreto’s award-winning Social, Emotional, and Academic Development (SEAD) program has been designed to deliver a holistic educational strategy that adequately addresses the most pressing challenges young girls face in the digital age. SEAD is designed to support all aspects of girls’ social, emotional, and academic development as they transition from childhood to adolescence and adulthood. The program is unique in its integration across all areas of the College’s curriculum and co-curricular activities, aligning with the College’s commitment to equipping our students for life, not just examinations.

As educators, the imperative to prioritise student wellbeing over academic success has never been more pronounced. Children’s emotional and mental development is a significant part of their education. In an era of technological complexities and social challenges, parents are placing increased emphasis on raising resilient, emotionally balanced, and socially adept children. Unlike previous generations, girls today are dealing with an increase in negative body image, cyberbullying, and mental health issues.

Parent Liz Woods has seen firsthand the positive impact SEAD has had on her four daughters who attended Loreto College. As a parent she notes the effective strategies to cope with modern challenges as being one of the notable benefits of the program and how it will assist both her daughter’s post-school.

School is such a small part of their life and the strategies they have, thanks in part to the Loreto SEAD program, have and will assist my daughters in the way they cope with adversity post schooling.

SEAD is complemented by Student Pulse, an innovative tool that provides real-time insights into our students’ week-to-week well-being and engagement. Data from Student Pulse shows that 94.5 percent of students checked in with staff for support at least once during 2020 when there were times of remote learning and student anxiety levels had increased due to COVID-19.

Loreto College’s unique approach reinforces our belief that mental well-being should not be a footnote in the academic curriculum.

If, from an early age, children are shown that their well-being matters and that it is supported both at home and at school, they are more likely to develop a strong sense of self and the resilience and confidence to deal with the unique challenges they are faced with in the digital age.

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