Author: Sandra Chafouleas

Female teacher wearing mask helps young student.

How to Use Homework to Support Student Success

January 13, 2022

“School assignments that a student is expected to do outside of the regular school day—that’s homework,” says Sandra Chafouleas, a UConn Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor at the Neag School of Education. “The general guideline is 10 minutes of nightly homework per grade level beginning after kindergarten. This amounts to just a few minutes for younger elementary students to up to 2 hours for high school students.”

Children playing sports jumping in the air with sun shining.

Why Mental Well-Being Promotion Must Extend to Youth Sports

October 29, 2021

As a psychologist and a parent of children participating in youth sports, it has been exciting for me to witness the increasing media attention on mental health and athletics. Mental toughness has long been a central topic within sports circles, but the current discussions are different. The past year has brought the mental health and well-being of athletes into mainstream conversation, whether it be as a plotline in season two of Apple TV’s “Ted Lasso” (promise, no more spoilers!), professional athletes’ stories highlighted during World Mental Health Day, or Simon Biles’ withdrawal from events at the Tokyo Olympics.

African American teacher works with school aged children, all are wearing masks.

Students Back to School With Anxiety, Grief, Social Skills Gaps

August 24, 2021

Even before COVID-19, as many as 1 in 6 young children had a diagnosed mental, behavioral or developmental disorder. New findings suggest a doubling of rates of disorders such as anxiety and depression among children and adolescents during the pandemic. One reason is that children’s well-being is tightly connected to family and community conditions such as stress and financial worries.

Kids and teacher wearing mask sitting on floor in classroom.

Reopening Schools Requires Doing Less, Better

April 7, 2021

For educators, families, and communities, April is bringing a welcome sign of hope to a year of unchartered challenges as political unrest, COVID-19, social and racial disparities, and violence have disrupted and dismantled our schools’ traditional approach to education. The appointment of Miguel A. Cardona as the 12th Secretary of Education and the passing of the American Rescue Plan of 2021 does make it feel like spring, in fact, has sprung. The possibility of equitable school environments for our nation’s children appears tangible, however, recovery must attend to more than filling holes with intent to return to a “new normal.”

Students desperately need support as they try to overcome current challenges to academic learning, physical health, and social-emotional connection. Meanwhile, school leaders must focus on coordinating policies and practices that put equitable structures in place for every child. While the necessary federal leadership and funding provide necessary first steps to tackling multiple points of support to the education infrastructure, we propose that schools reopen not with a “new normal,” but a “better normal” — one where we carry out only a few highly effective actions really well.

Child holding hands with two adults.

Op-Ed: Trump’s Behavior and Teaching Kids Social Emotional Skills

January 20, 2021

Imagine what would happen if a preschooler didn’t “use their words” when they got upset about sharing, instead stomping around yelling while adults simply observed in silence. Think about what the school climate would feel like if a student punched another during recess while others watched without seeking help.  

Now consider the actions – and inactions – by Trump Jan. 6 as the electoral vote counts occurred at the U.S. Capitol. Those behaviors show a desperate need for social emotional learning.

A 13-year-old boy with autism, uses a keyboard and iPad to communicate with his mother.

Amid COVID, Schools Can Help Families of Children With Disabilities

December 16, 2020

Children don’t come with how-to manuals. Even if they did, they would all require a manual of their own, tailored to their unique make and model. That’s why caregiving can be rewarding, as well as puzzling and demanding – particularly for family caregivers of children with disabilities. Although these caregivers often report that the role gives them a sense of purpose, it usually comes with physical, emotional and financial strains. COVID-19 has added major hurdles to accessing, delivering and evaluating special education services.

Woman setting table

Finding Joy Through the Holiday Season

November 13, 2020

The pandemic is bringing an atypical holiday season this year, presenting change in the things we do, the way we do them, and who we do them with. We may miss out on getting together in person with family and friends, traveling to cherished places, or taking part in our traditional celebrations. Forced upon us, these unfamiliar changes can evoke feelings of loss and frustration.

American flag.

Talking to Kids About the Dysfunctional Presidential Debate

October 2, 2020

News headlines seem to suggest consensus about how bad the debate was, some deeming it the worst in presidential history and an embarrassment to society. The theme of many stories covering the event can be summed up in a single word: dysfunction. Dysfunctional debates are characterized by not listening, jumping in and cutting others off, grandstanding, boasting, using sarcastic or biting tones, and not acknowledging others.