The Power of Connection: Keeping Kids Connected and Boosting Emotional Well-being This Summer

As summer is in full swing, children have the opportunity to embrace the freedom and joy of the season. While adventures and playtime are essential, it’s equally important to prioritize connections with friends and the community. By nurturing these bonds, we not only foster emotional intelligence in children but also enhance their overall well-being.

Ways to help kids stay connected this summer:

Engage in Group Activities:

Encourage children to participate in group activities that align with their interests and passions. Summer camps, sports teams, art classes, or community programs provide fantastic opportunities for kids to connect with peers who share similar hobbies. Engaging in collaborative activities fosters teamwork, communication skills, and a sense of belonging, boosting emotional intelligence and overall well-being.

Plan Playdates and Social Outings:

Organize playdates or outings with friends in a safe and enjoyable environment. Whether it’s a trip to the park, a picnic, or a day at the beach, these social gatherings allow kids to strengthen existing friendships and cultivate new ones. Positive social interactions create a support network that nurtures empathy, self-expression, and emotional resilience.

Volunteer Together:

Encourage kids to contribute to their community through volunteering activities. Engaging in acts of kindness not only benefits others but also enhances a child’s sense of purpose and connectedness. Collaborate on volunteer projects, such as cleaning up local parks, helping at a food bank, or participating in community events. Through these experiences, children develop empathy, compassion, and an understanding of their role in making the world a better place.

Foster Digital Connections:

In today’s digital age, technology can be harnessed positively to facilitate social connections. Encourage kids to maintain communication with friends through video calls, messaging apps, or online gaming platforms. While moderation is key, these digital interactions can provide a sense of continuity and support, especially when distance or other constraints make in-person meetups challenging.

Cultivate Family Bonding:

Don’t underestimate the power of family connections. Engage in activities that strengthen the family unit and create lasting memories. Family game nights, movie marathons, or cooking together can foster a sense of belonging and emotional security. Encouraging open communication, active listening, and quality time strengthens emotional bonds and equips children with essential skills for building connections outside the family.

Nurture Emotional Intelligence:

Emotional intelligence plays a vital role in healthy relationships and overall well-being. Encourage children to recognize and express their emotions effectively. Teach them active listening skills, empathy, and conflict resolution techniques. By equipping kids with emotional intelligence, they develop the tools to build meaningful connections and navigate social situations with confidence and compassion.

Helping kids stay connected this summer is essential for their emotional intelligence and well-being. By engaging in group activities, planning social outings, volunteering, fostering digital connections, nurturing family bonds, and cultivating emotional intelligence, children develop the skills necessary for building meaningful relationships. Let’s create a summer filled with laughter, support, and shared experiences that will leave a lasting impact on our children’s lives.

The Impact of Social Media on Teen Anxiety: Exploring the Connection

Social media has become an integral part of daily life for many teenagers. While social media platforms offer new opportunities for connection and self-expression, there is growing concern about the impact of social media on teen mental health. In particular, there is a link between social media use and increased levels of anxiety in teenagers.

The connection between social media and teen anxiety:

  • Social Media and the Pressure to be Perfect

Social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat are often curated highlight reels of people’s lives, featuring perfectly filtered photos and posts that showcase the best parts of their day. While these images can be inspirational and aspirational, they can also create unrealistic expectations for teenagers. When teens compare their own lives to the carefully curated lives of others, they may feel like they are falling short or that they aren’t good enough. This constant pressure to be perfect can lead to increased levels of anxiety and stress.

  • Social Media and Cyberbullying

Another way that social media can contribute to teen anxiety is through cyberbullying. Cyberbullying involves using technology to harass, intimidate, or humiliate someone. Social media platforms can provide a platform for cyberbullying, and it can be difficult for teens to escape the constant barrage of hurtful messages and comments. The anonymity of social media can also embolden bullies to say things they wouldn’t say in person, making cyberbullying particularly insidious.

  • Social Media and Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)

Teens often feel pressure to stay connected and up-to-date with their social media feeds. The fear of missing out (FOMO) can drive teens to check their phones constantly, even when they are supposed to be studying, sleeping, or spending time with friends and family. This constant need to stay connected can create feelings of anxiety and stress, as teens worry about what they might be missing out on.

Managing Social Media and Teen Anxiety

While social media can contribute to teen anxiety, it is important to note that it is not inherently bad. Social media can be a valuable tool for connection and self-expression when used in moderation. Here are some tips for managing social media and teen anxiety:

  1. Encourage teens to take breaks from social media. Suggest that they set aside time each day to unplug and do something else.
  2. Help teens curate their social media feeds to focus on positive and uplifting content.
  3. Talk to teens about the importance of digital citizenship and encourage them to speak up if they see someone being bullied or harassed online.
  4. Encourage teens to talk to a trusted adult if they are feeling anxious or stressed.
  5. Set boundaries around social media use, such as turning off phones during meals or before bedtime.

Social media can have a significant impact on teen anxiety, but it is not the only factor. Parents, caregivers, and educators can help teens manage their social media use and provide support when needed. By promoting healthy habits around social media use, we can help teens develop a healthy relationship with technology and reduce their levels of anxiety and stress.

Hope Rising brings hope to classrooms, helps students build healthy habits, and manage outside stressors. My Best Me.

15 Easy Ways For Children To Give Back to the Community

Raise kids who give back. 

Why is it important to give back to the community?

Giving children the opportunity to give back to the community helps them build empathy and a strong connection to their community. The process of giving back also builds many life skills, such as teamwork, goal setting, communication, time management, etc. 

“My Best Me”  emphasis on community:

The “My Best Me” curriculum dedicates an entire section to community. Helping children build the skills to interact with their community, ask for help when needed and give back when possible. Learning about community helps children learn more about themselves, how to tackle challenges, and most importantly it helps them feel a sense of belonging. Learn more about the features and benefits of the My Best Me curriculum.

15 Easy Ways For Children to Give Back to their Community:

  • Holiday Food Drive
  • Organize a community Clean up 
  • Clothing Donation – donate clothes that no longer fit
  • Start a School Recycling Program 
  • Make a handmade card for a kid’s in hospital 
  • Write a note to send to an old age home
  • Write a message of thanks to a community hero
  • Help raise money for a charity by holding a bake sale
  • Raise awareness about issues within your community 
  • Help at a community garden 
  • Write letters to the troops 
  • Set up a charity for your local animal shelter
  • Gather and donate old toys you have outgrown 
  • Donate used books or create a book exchange at your school
  • Build a window display the entire community can enjoy 

How to Connect with Students

Connecting with students has many great benefits. A positive student-teacher relationship promotes academic success, helps avoid negative behaviors, and promotes self-worth and good mental health. Studies have found that integrating social-emotional learning in the classroom has benefits for both students and adults that work with them.

3 strategies to connect with students

  1. Be Authentic- Create opportunities for students to share things about themselves, their likes, talents, dislikes, etc. The important thing when creating these activities and discussions is that you as the educator participate and allow your students to get to know you as well.

    Examples and ideas:
    • self-portraits: have children draw themselves and write down facts about themselves. Where were they born, how many people are there in their family, what is their favorite subject and why, favorite color, pets, etc. (Free printable)
    • What makes a great classroom board: together come up with what makes up a great classroom, have everyone decorate the board, and say one thing they feel would make the classroom amazing. 
    • Two truths and one lie: games are always a great way to break the ice, have fun and get to know each other.
    • Goal Setting: help your students set a goal and break down the steps that need to be taken in order to achieve that goal. This is a great way for you as the teacher to see what is important to your students and help them achieve that goal for themselves. (check in on these goals mid-year and again at the end of the year)(Free printable)

Being authentic also means you continue to learn and this means being able to admit when something didn’t work well even as the educator. Showing that starting over, regrouping and asking for help does not equal failure but rather it shows the ability to adapt and grow.

  1. Make yourself available- This one can be tricky for teachers because you not only need to make yourself available but also need to create boundaries so that you have time to recharge throughout the day. You can do this by setting specific times in which students can come for help or to discuss something. This can be in the morning before school, after school, and/or during lunchtime. 
  1. Be a Champion– Celebrate with your class. This can be as simple as attending a soccer game where many of your students are playing and/or attending. This is a great opportunity to cheer them on and build connections outside the classroom and connect with families. Celebrate not only the obvious success but celebrate growth and effort as well. Being a champion for your students means being seen as an adult that authentically cares about your student’s success and about them as individuals.
How to connect with students: Be authentic, be available, be a champion.

How to Fund Emotional Intelligence

How to fund Emotional Intelligence curriculum in your School

When a school is looking to implement an Emotional Intelligence Curriculum, such as the “My Best Me” curriculum, one of their main concerns is funding. The good news is that the “My Best Me” curriculum meets federal funding eligibility standards and other state and local grant requirements. 

We encourage you to use the following resources to help fund Social-Emotional Learning in your school. 

Title Funds: federal funding opportunities for EI (Emotional Intelligence Curriculum)

  • Title I, Part A—Improving Basic Programs Operated by Local Educational Agencies
  • Title I, Part D—Prevention and Intervention Programs for Children and Youth Who Are Neglected, Delinquent, or At-Risk
  • Title II, Part A—Supporting Effective Instruction (Teacher Training and Teacher Retention)
  • Title IV, Part A—Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) Grants
  • Title VI, Part B, Subpart 1—Small, Rural School Grant Program


  • IDEA- Part B Special Education Grants to States
  • EIR 
  • FundsNet – Database to search for grants sorted by state
  • Federal Grants – (Keyword- Social Emotional Learning) federal funding filtered by opportunity status, funding type, eligibility, category and agency. 

Funding Exclusive to Oklahoma:

EIGO– allows individuals and businesses to get a state income tax credit to help offset the expense specifically for Hope Rising.EIGO is only in Oklahoma and so these benefits only apply to Oklahoma Schools and Oklahoma Income Tax payers.

Students deserve programs that will teach them social-emotional skills that will span beyond the classroom. Teachers deserve the tools and resources to make this process easy and effective. 

Hope Awaits!