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All aspects of wellness should be incorporated throughout the school: Physical, Emotional, Intellectual, Community/Service. Supportive personnel in a safe and drug-free environment—has a very large effect on Indigenous students’ school success.

Holistic Wellness




  • How are the respective aspects of the wellness wheel incorporated into your class?

Connection to Land

  • What opportunities do students have to connect their learning to the land around them?

  • How is a student’s land base/homelands incorporated into your class?

Kinesthetic Learning

  • What opportunities do students have to physically engage in learning in your class?

  • How often can they engage learning through movement?

Whole Self

  • What opportunities do students have to engage in all parts of themselves in your class?

  • Do they feel your class is a safe space?

  • How do I develop students' understanding of interconnectedness--through cross-curricular opportunities, through collaborating with other teachers or local partners?

  • How do I 'metacognitively' help students to think about thinking to reflect on reflection?

  • Do I provide opportunities for physical wellness, emotional wellness, and service in my classroom?

  • Do I understand how these elements connect to my students wellbeing on the whole and also in my class?

Holistic Wellness

Social Emotional Health

  • Building Blocks paper

  • A good paper by Stephanie Jones and Suzanne Bouffard about that fact that SEL has to be more than a program/curriculum.

  • meta-analysis demonstrating the impact that SEL programs have on academic achievement

  • Important for policy folks - ROI and SEL 

  • Article about the connection between SEL and behavior management - really thinking about it from a developmental perspective. 

  • For other resources, Transforming Education has a weekly newsletter that shares new research, press and other SEL related work. 

  • As for in-school resources, it depends on what kind of SEL skills/mindsets you want to develop. For school wide culture/climate, I think Mindful Schools does good work. Restorative Practices  are another school culture approach that is more focused on student development over behavior like PBIS. With PBIS you don’t necessary build skills in students that they transfer out of the environment .You can also look at Quiet Time  which involves 15 minutes of meditation at the beginning and end of the school day. For specific programs/curriciula (important but not sufficient), RULER is great for younger students - it focuses on emotional awareness and regulation, and take a look at Ripple Effects by Alice Ray- for older students because they engage directly with a device and not through teachers - we’ve found that in some cases some of these skills aren’t developed as well via teachers for a number of reasons (trust, teachers’ own SEL skills or mindsets). Also CASEL publishes a guide of evidence based programs for elementary and secondary schools.

  • This 2-pager describes how social emotional learning benefits students (not native-specific but still helpful):

  • Healthier Students are Better Learners:

  • Power, T. J., Shapiro, E. S., & DuPaul, G. J. : Preparing psychologists to link the health and educational systems in managing and preventing children’s health problems. Journal of Pediatric Psychology 28: 147-155, 2003.

  • This is a specific study on social-emotional learning as it relates to outcomes for Aboriginal youth in Canada:

  • Five inter-connected themes emerged: cultural wellness, emotional wellness, mental wellness, social wellness, and strong identity, with strong identity described as central and foundational to the other themes. This study strengthens the assertion that Aboriginal children require an additional set of social-emotional skills to successfully navigate different cultural contexts during development. Implications for research and practice are discussed.

  • Hallett D, Chandler MJ & Lalonde CE 2007. Aboriginal language knowledge and youth suicide. Cognitive Development 22(3):392–9.

  • Wexler L 2009. The importance of identity, history and culture in the wellbeing of Indigenous youth. Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth 2(2):267–76.

  • International studies have consistently found that cultural affiliation and engagement by Indigenous young people are positively associated with their resilience and wellbeing (Wexler 2009). Aboriginal communities in British Columbia (Canada) in which at least half of the members reported a conversational knowledge of their own language experienced no or very low numbers of youth suicides over the period for which data were available (Hallett et al. 2007).

  • This is a school in Alaska that measures SEL. They’re students demonstrate high levels of these skills:

  • This Presents both the neg/challenges in social/emotional health for native students, but also mentions the positive things that communities offer:

Related Topics
  • Bryan, J., Osendarp, S., Hughes, D., Calvaresi, E., Baghurst, K. & van Klinken, J. (2004). Nutrients for cognitive development in school-aged children. Nutrition Reviews, 62(8), 295–306.

  • Powell, C., Walker, S., Chang, S., & Grantham-McGregor, S. (1998). Nutrition and education: A randomized trial of the effects of breakfast in rural primary school children. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 68, 873–879.

  • Powers, K. M. (2006). An exploratory study of cultural identity and culture-based educational programs for urban American Indian students. Urban Education,41(1), 20-49. doi: 10.1177/0042085905282249

  • Powers, K., Potthoff, S. J., Bearinger, L. H., & Resnick, M. D. (2003). Does cultural programming improve educational outcomes for American Indian youth? Journal of American Indian Education, 42(2), 17-49. Retrieved from


  • Basch, C.E. (2010). Healthier Students Are Better Learners: A Missing Link in Efforts to Close the Achievement Gap. Equity Matters: Research Review No. 6. New York: The Campaign for Educational Equity. 

Holistic Wellness Research
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