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PSRP/School Support Staff: How do students' physical or mental health issues (e.g., dental, eating disorders, vision, asthma) affect their academic performance?

Comments: 100

We hear so much about child abuse. What about child neglect? Providing a jacket in the winter. Taking the child/children to the Dr. when they need medical care or to the dentist. Not caring or providing for a child's basic needs are neglect. A child does not ask to be born but as parents/grandparents we must take care of our children whether it is medical or learning in school. A child's basic needs must be met before the process of learning can be acheived.

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shirley roberts
lyons, GA

Teaching in an urban school system, I've witnessed firsthand some of the trials and tribulations that students these days face. From growing up in a single family home, to being passed from foster home to foster home, to even being a victim of sexual, physical and mental abuse, students endure these things and my heart goes out to them. My charge as a special education teacher is not only to teach my students but also try to make their heartache just a little easier to bear. I want my students to try their best on a daily basis, but if they don't make 100% on every test, or even 80%, if I can make them happy for the time they spend in my class, I go home a happy teacher.

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Rikesha Foster
Birmingham AFT
Birmingham, AL

When students have physical or mental health issues, they tend to not trust or have respect for their teachers or any other authoritative figures. Teachers feel the brunt of their disrespect, their consistent breaking of rules, because teachers spend the most time with them in trying to teach the content areas. I feel that once students gain trust and respect for the teacher, they want badly to learn, but the problems that exist at home, school or elsewhere are still embedded in their minds, hearts and souls. Until the problems are addressed by the appropriate professionals, the student will not be a whole person. Our options?

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Williams-Quary Nedra
Houston Federation of Teachers
Houston, TX

Students come to the Merlin Alternative Center very hungry. Once they have eaten breakfast and talked with their friends while eating, their temperament and attitude change. I see many kids go off to their classrooms ready for a good day at school and less worried about their home life once they have food in their tummys.

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Nellie wi
OSEA
merlin, OR

As someone who has suffered from depression and anxiety since childhood, I know just how much mental health affects academic performance. In spite of all of the medical research and medications available to treat mental health disorders, these still remain very misunderstood by those who do not personally suffer the effects. This lack of understanding can have detrimental effects on the kids who do suffer from mental illness. There needs to be more of an effort to bring awareness to all school personnel in the area of mental health so we can create an environment of compassion and understanding.

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Angela Mitchell
OSEA
Medford, OR

If a child has a mental condition and is not taking his/her meds on the prescribed time and dosage, it could lead to the child acting up in the classroom, which in turn will disrupt the studies taking place at that given time. So for parents with children who have mental conditions, please be vigilant and ensure that your child/ren are taking their meds on time.

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Gil Duenas
Guam Federation of Teachers
Mangilao, GU

I think the question shouldn't be how those issues affect our students but more how can we eliminate or minimize those variables that DO affect them so they we can concentrate on teaching more academics and less behavioral skills. A student who does not have enough food at home, whose family has health issues but no medical insurance, who can't see what is being written on the board, who doesn't feel healthy, etc., will not academically perform at an acceptable level unless at least part of those issues are taken care of.

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Luis Diaz
Beaverton, OR

All aspects of their lives, including being hungry, affect their ability to learn. How can you learn if you are suffering from a toothache, an earache, a grumbling stomach, or if you cannot comprehend or process what someone is saying? Everything affects the child's ability to learn.

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Barbara Robertson
Anchorage, AK

There is simply no way for teachers to work in any environment that is not safe. First, there is falling plaster, crumbling walls, leaks, puddles, loose or missing tiles, and sanitation concerns. The ceilings may leak, flake, and peel. A layer of white debris is all over the floor and shelves in classrooms, daily. Thus, teachers feel that their respiratory system is irritated by these conditions as they clean up a mess each day because the budget cuts have impacted minor maintenance. Finally, as we add it all up, we are looking at hazards in our workplace and very sick schools. Surely, our students deserve something better.

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Phyllis Murray
scarsdale, NY

Physical and mental health disorders can negatively affect academic performance. Dental disease is the #1 problem for students missing school. If a child is not in their seat, they can not learn. When in pain, the student can not concentrate, attend to class work. Assignments are interrupted. I have cared for students with eating disorders who have been too ill at school to attend to class instruction. They may be in physical pain, may become dizzy, ill, and ask to go home. They may be hospitalized for treatment. Illness again interrupts their academic progress. A healthy child, in their classroom regularly, learns best.

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Pat Christie
8004 CFT Member at Large
Santa Cruz, CA

I am a second grade teacher, and I notice on a daily basis that my students have health problems. My students can not focus on their academics if they are too tired, hungry or have dental problems. I communicate with the parents and for whatever reason their response is not accepetable to me. I provide food at times, and we have Cleveland State dental students to provide free dental work. I am thankful for that but in reality I feel sorry for my students. This goes without saying that our students have health problems that need consistent attention parents are not able to take care of their children.

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Gina Foster
ctu279
Cleveland, OH

I know it affects the performance of a child. Example: A car without oil or gasoline can't function, neither can a child without food. I am retired now, but I remember students coming to school crying that their stomach hurt because they hadn't eaten anything. Many others have concerns about where their next meal will come from. I had a student who told me that her mother had to remain on welfare even if she didn't want to, so that she and her children would have the opportunity to visit the doctor when they got sick or the dentist. The brain has to be fed to function, it is fuel for the body.

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saundra Goldsby
4
gary, IN

Students' health conditions can profoundly affect school attendance, achievement and participation. A child with a toothache can't concentrate and one having an asthma attack can't breathe. One student with severe anorexia became too weak to attend school daily and was hospitalized with a heart condition caused by anorexia. Only with great support from her family, medical team and school team was she able to graduate. Mental illnesses (depression, bipolar, generalized anxiety, etc.) are common and may prevent even very bright students from being successful. Their symptoms can be overwhelming at times even with good medical treatment.

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Helen Ramirez-Odell
Chicago Teachers Union
Chicago, IL

If students are struggling with physical or mental disorders, they are not able to concentrate on the academic challenges facing them. For all students to have a 'fair shot' at proficiency in all academic areas, they must be assisted by addressing their health issues first.

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Virginia Koning
Albuquerque - ATF
Albuquerque, NM

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. ~World Health Organization, 1948 Therefore more must be done in the area of prevention. The emotional climate of the school and the physical environment of the building are key in creating a safe school. The fact that health clinics are becoming an integral part of the school in areas where resources are limited creates a win win situation for students,parents, and teachers.

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Phyllis Murray
UFT
Scarsdale, NY

Anything that distracts a student from their first task of attentativeness, focus, response is a problem. A student who hurts can't study, a student who worries can't study, a student who can't breath can't study. The degree to which a kid is affected by the distraction depends on the kid and their age. Clearly this includes health issues of any kind.

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Kathryn Cunningham
Oak Lawn, IL

Research bears out that all of the factors of physical or mental health issues affect students' academic performance. That is why I feel strongly that more counseling psychologists and school psychologists need to be recruited and highly trained for the k-12 school systems and the post-secondary schools (including higher education) in the USA. I'm especially appalled at the lack of counseling staff in our Florida schools and I bet it's no different in the rest of the country.

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Myra Suzanne Brown
UFF-UF
Gainesville, FL

Students are very sensitive to their environment, physically and psychologically. I have four repeaters this year in my classroom and all of them have serious problems at home, in spite of being healthy. This is a 20% of my students.

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Claudia Hughes
hisd
houston, TX

Student’s mental and physical/dental health issues are of paramount importance in affecting academic performance. I feel that there should be basic in-school health screening at the beginning of the school year for each student. Then there should be referrals or visiting volunteer dentists and doctors that can follow up exam the students who are designated in need. Parents should be contacted and teachers. A list of follow-up resources should be made available to all students in need and a way of tracking follow-up. The USA needs universal health care and coverage.

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bonnie steinkraus
NYSUT
syracuse, NY

Sick students (depressed, too) do not attend school regularly. Consequently, they fall behind and never have the opportunities to achieve along with their peers.

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Kathleen Greenawalt
WSTU 571
Burr Ridge, IL

If students' physical and/or mental issues are not addressed it will clearly have a negative impact on their availabilty to learn. Until physical and mental health needs are treated children will flounder and make very little, if any, measurable progress.

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Margaret Ann Schwerdtman
UFT
Brooklyn, NY

Health issues can make it very hard to concentrate on anything other than what is going on in your life. The problems begin to consume you and take over everything which leaves you to not care too much about anything anymore.

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Claire Knox
Lexington, KY

All of our children in this world need the proper nurishment to function well. The proper nutritional food will give all children the strength and a functional brain to do well in school. All children need dental, vision and medical insurance. Asthma is an serious sickness if not treated it could lead to lung failure and death. Any child with this illiness will not be able to functon well in school. We must educate our children on eating healthy and the harm that they will bring upon themselves if they have eating disorders. Helping our children with education, good health and living their dreams is the best we can do for them. Thank you....

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La Joyce Morales
AFT
Chicago, IL

but they sense the anxiety and tenseness of the home situation. Children need to be reassured. Parents need to know what their children know and don't know. They need to discuss it with them and quiet their fears. Parents also need to know their children well enough to detect mental problems. If the child had hepatitis, he would be immediately given medical treatment. If something is wrong with his mind, there is usually denial on the part of the parents and a reluctance to get the child the professional mental care he needs. Until we change are ways, we will not change our outcomes.

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doris morazan
MCC
edison, NJ

Just as an invalid without legs cannot walk, so a child with a chained mind or body cannot perform. The body must be cared for and be kept robust, active and healthy. The key is proper nutrition and this is not being executed in most homes in spite of all the new knowledge we have acquired about food. The American public ignores nutrition, because it is too busy making money (or to be honest making ends meet)so another night of pizza instead of broccoli, mashed potatoes and grilled fish. In regards to the mind children pick up on moods and atmosphere around the house. They may not understand the problems in depth, TO BE CONTINUED

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doris morazan
MCC
edison, NJ

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