We all need some good news right now, especially related to education and student progress. Research shows that since 2003 conversations about alcohol between parents and their kids have increased 73%, and during that same time, underage drinking has declined 50%.
While this is great progress, there is still more work to do and the time to do it is now as April is Alcohol Responsibility Month. Empowering students to say “YES” to a healthy lifestyle and “NO” to underage drinking depends on access to useful and relevant information early on. Combining the power of educators with the influence of parents, Ask, Listen, Learn in partnership with Discovery Education offers a no-cost, digital, skills-based approach to teaching kids about communication, decision-making, and self-advocacy as means of preventing youth substance use.
Conversations are key to keeping kids substance-free. We know kids don’t learn in a vacuum – kids learn from many influences about many things. Communication about underage drinking may be accompanied by conversations about underage cannabis use. And now, educators will have the opportunity to take the learning even further with an all-new Digital Exploration. This new resource empowers students to take control of their own learning with a self-paced lesson on how cannabis impacts the developing brain. With this resource, students will effectively be able to:
- Answer what cannabis is and how it affects the developing brain and body.
- Separate fact from fiction regarding what they might hear about cannabis.
- Learn refusal strategies they can use when pressured or invited to engage in risky behaviors.
Another way to get the conversation started is by asking yourself: do your students know that underage drinking impacts both their developing brains and bodies in addition to their behavior? Through resources such as “Healthy Decisions for the Whole Body” video and companion guide, students in grades 5-7 can learn from champion swimmer Nathan Adrian as he discusses how alcohol affects the body and gives scientific examples to help students become better informed decision-makers.
In just 45-60 minutes, students explore the role of their brain’s cerebellum in motor skills, consider why motor skills and coordination are important to everyone (not just athletes!), and examine the negative effects of underage drinking on the developing cerebellum. Students ultimately apply what they have learned to create a profile of a fictional student their age and highlight the importance of making safe and healthy decisions. By the end of the standards-aligned lesson, students are able to:
- Summarize the effects of alcohol on the developing cerebellum.
- Consider the effects of alcohol on one’s motor functions.
- Reframe the effects of alcohol on the developing cerebellum into different messages that specifically target and resonate with middle school students.
By equipping students with the right resources and support, we can help them become better-informed decision makers. Together, we can make sure students are empowered to pursue healthy lifestyles by saying NO to underage drinking and underage cannabis use.
Discovery Education users can find these resources and more on the Ask, Listen, Learn: Alcohol and the Developing Brain channel.