Social Supports are the perception and presence of a support network available to help a student if needed. People are social creatures, and our happiness is in part based on having supportive friends and family. The power of Social Supports extends to learning: a student's perception of the strength of the support they have, even if they do not end up calling upon their supports, is a key contributor to their academic success, including learning math.
Key sources of Social Supports include parents, friends, classmates, teachers, and other school resources and staff. These sources offer different types of support to a student:
- Emotional support by caring for and showing compassion to the student;
- Appraisal support by providing the student with helpful feedback;
- Instrumental support by contributing resources such as time and money; and
- Information support by providing information and advice.
Social Supports can be beneficial even when students do not take advantage of the support. Rather, it is important that students perceive that these Social Supports are available to them.
Unfortunately, children can experience traumatic events that erode their actual and/or perceived Social Supports.
- Situations that can erode their parent/guardian Social Supports include having parents/guardians who divorce or separate, pass away, go to jail, experience problems with substance abuse, or have a significant mental illness.
- Situations that can erode their friend and classmate Social Supports include being a victim of bullying, including cyberbullying, and moving to a new school.
Building positive relationships with other sources of Social Supports, such as with a teacher or family friend, can diminish the effects of this kind of trauma (e.g., by mitigating the negative effects of stress hormones).
- Building Blocks for Learning: A framework from Turnaround for Children
- Family Resources & Relationships: Subtopic that explores research on the effects of parenting, SES, and stress on children's wellbeing and achievement on Digital Promise's Research Map
- Learning Communities: Subtopic that includes research on communities of learners on Digital Promise's Research Map
- Parent Involvement: Subtopic that includes research on the connection between parent/family involvement and student achievement on Digital Promise's Research Map
- Supporting Students Who Have Experienced Trauma: Digital Promise Video that discusses the importance of designing schools that provide the physical and emotional safety to support children who have endured adverse experiences