Well-being is an overarching term that encompasses not only social and emotional learning but also includes physical, mental, and academic learning as well.
Well-being ensures that all students and educators thrive physically, socially, emotionally, mentally, and academically.
Social well-being reflects the interactions with others in which students engage in positive relationships of belonging, attachment, and connections in various interpersonal situations.
Emotional well-being is identifying, understanding, and regulating inner feelings, thoughts, and emotions.
Mental well-being refers to the brain’s thinking, processing, and learning systems.
Physical well-being refers to the physical wellness or health of our body and explores self-care, hygiene, nutrition, exercise, and managing stress.
Academic well-being is the demonstrated acquisition of content knowledge and behaviors within a range of developmentally appropriate abilities.
To some, it might seem over-reaching to include physical and academic skills in our definition of well-being. Our collective experience in schools reminds us that when students come to us hungry, tired, fatigued, or stressed it is very difficult for them to engage in academic learning.
Furthermore, the work in positive psychology in the educational setting sees academic components of well-being as imperative because it is foundational for how students learn.
White and Kern (2018) suggest that, in fact, academic learning is a “double helix with intertwined strands of equal importance—academics and character or wellbeing.” They further validate what parents and teachers have always known as the work of educating the whole child, and refer to the compelling research that demonstrates that the success of young people in school and beyond is inextricably linked to healthy social and emotional development.
The interconnected link between student well-being and academic learning is supported through supportive school climates, proactive Tier 1 instruction, and an increased commitment to the work supporting well-being in schools by administrators, teachers, service providers, and the school community at large.
- White, M. A., & Kern, M. L., (2018). Positive education: Learning and teaching for wellbeing and academic mastery. International Journal of Wellbeing, 8(1), 1-17. doi:10.5502/ijw.v8i1.588