The Report Card Blues January 17, 2009Posted by Mrs Weird Scientist in Easy As Pie, Human Body, Psychology and Behavior.
Tags: depression, report card, school, teen suicide
It turns out that how you handle first grade doesn’t just affect your report card in future years, but it also affects how you feel about yourself. In turn, it could link up to feelings of depression way down the line in seventh grade.
Making The Grade
Researchers at the University of Missouri kept track of 474 girls and boys from first grade right up to seventh grade. For my UK readers who may not be familiar with the North American grade system, kids in grade 1 are usually six years old while kids in grade 7 tend to be around the age of twelve.
A lead researcher – Keith Herman, an associate professor at the university – found that the kids who had a hard time with the core subjects such as reading and math were more likely to show some of the risk factors for negative thinking and depression once they hit sixth or seventh grade. Herman thinks that differences in how kids learn will still be an issue, even if a child gets help with the difficult subjects at school.
What Can We Do About It?
So, if Herman’s theory proves true and kids are experiencing depressive thoughts due to their continued struggles with school learning, then what can we all do about it? One suggested solution is to acknowledge skills and positive growth in other areas, such as sports or singing. Herman shared his thoughts on the study and explained:
Children’s individual differences will always exist in basic academic skills, so it is necessary to explore and emphasize other assets in students, especially those with lower academic skill relative to their peers. Along with reading and math, teachers and parents should honor skills in other areas, such as interpersonal skills, non-core academic areas, athletics and music.
Researchers also found that girls responded differently to boys when it comes to self-perception. How a girl performed academically had a far more significant effect on how she viewed herself.
It meant that girls who didn’t really do as well academically saw themselves as not being in control of other parts of their lives. That feeling of not having control over important decisions in your life is considered a risk factor for depression symptoms.
A Little Backtrack
I posted about teen depression and suicide back in January of 2008 – a year ago. You can read the post here. I talked about ways in which teens can get support for depression. Afterwards, I received intense, emotional responses from a range of people – teens and adults.
But one thing that struck me is how responses seemed to bring up the aspect of a person not feeling valued or appreciated – not feeling like they have a special place in this world. There was a real sense of isolation for teens who felt depressed.
Feeling Good About Yourself
When I look at this new study, it seems as though the academic focus can maybe become so overwhelming, that we as adults forget about all the other amazing and cool abilities that teens have in life. The scary thing is that if we don’t acknowledge and share our enthusiasm, respect and admiration for these abilities, how can we expect teens to experience and acknowledge those same feelings?