Stop, Think, Discuss

Common Barriers

Outlined below are some common barriers usually identified as interfering with learning/ parenting/ teaching. Think about and perhaps discuss with your colleagues which of these you see everyday and what others you would add to the list.

Deficiencies in basic living resources and opportunities for development dearth of food in the home inadequate clothing substandard housing (incl. being homeless) lack of transportation income at or below the poverty level (e.g., due to unemployment or welfare status) lack of after-school supervision for child lack of youth recreation and enrichment immigration-related concerns (e.g., limited English proficiency, legal status) lack of home involvement in schooling lack of peer support lack of community involvement lack of school support services lack of social services lack of physical, dental, and mental health services

Psychosocial problems

  • physical health problems
  • school adjustment problems (incl. school avoidance, truancy, pregnancy, and dropouts)
  • relationship difficulties (incl. dysfunctional family situations, insensitivity to others, social withdrawal, peers who are negative influences)
  • deficiencies in necessary skills (e.g., reading problems, language difficulties, poor coordination, social skill deficits)
  • abuse by others (physical and sexual)
  • substance abuse
  • Overreliance on psychological defense mechanisms (e.g., denial, distortion, projection, displacement)
  • eating problems
  • delinquency (incl. gang-related problems and community violence)
  • psychosocial concerns stemming from sexual activity (e.g., prevention of and reactions to pregnancy or STDs)
  • psychopathology/disabilities/disorders

General stressors and underlying psychological problems associated with

  • external stressors (objective and perceived) and deficits in support systems
  • competence deficits (low self-efficacy/self- esteem, skill deficits)
  • threats to self-determination/autonomy/control
  • feeling unrelated to others or perceiving threats to valued relationships
  • emotional upsets, personality disorders, mood disorders and other psychopathology

Crises and emergencies

  • personal/familial (incl. home violence)
  • subgroup (e.g., death of a classmate or close colleague)
  • school-wide (e.g., earthquake, floods, shooting on campus)

Difficult transitions

  • associated with stages of schooling (e.g., entry, leaving)
  • associated with stages of life (e.g., puberty, gender identity, job and career concerns)
  • associated with changes in life circumstances (e.g., moving, death in the family)

Note: The severity and pervasiveness of all the problems addressed may be mild, moderate, or severe; they also may be narrow or pervasive in terms of how broadly they are manifested.

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Areas of Focus in Enhancing Healthy Psychosocial Development

and integrity
(e.g., understanding and valuing of societal expectations and moral courses of action)
Self-esteem (e.g., feelings of competence, self- determination, and being connected to others)
Social and working
(e.g., social awareness, empathy, respect, communication, interpersonal cooperation and problem solving, critical thinking, judgement, and decision making)
(e.g., understanding of self and impact on others, development of personal goals, initiative, and functional autonomy)
Temperament (e.g., emotional stability and responsiveness)
Personal safety
and safe behavior
(e.g., understanding and valuing of ways to maintain safety, avoid violence, resist drug abuse, and prevent sexual abuse)
(e.g., understanding and valuing of ways to maintain physical and mental health)
physical functioning
(e.g., understanding and valuing of how to develop and maintain physical fitness)
and life roles
(e.g., awareness of vocational options, changing nature of sex roles, stress management)
Creativity (e.g., breaking set)

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Examples of Major Developmental Tasks

Toddlers (2-4)

  • Locomotion and increasing control over gross motor skills
  • Early speech
  • Playing with others
  • Beginning of impulse control

Early school age(4-6)

  • Sex-role identification
  • Increasing control over fine motor skills
  • Acquisition of basic language structure
  • Beginning sense of morality
  • Playing with others in groups

Middle school age (6-12)

  • Establishing close friendships
  • Strengthening sense of morality
  • Increasing listening skills
  • Ability to use language in multifaceted and complex ways
  • Academic achievement
  • Teamwork
  • Self-evaluation

    Early adolescence (12-18)

  • Accepting one's physique
  • Emotional development
  • Lessening emotional dependence on parents
  • Widening peer relationships
  • Choosing and preparing for higher education/occupation
  • Gender identity, sex role patterns, and sexual relationships
  • Acquiring socially responsible values and behavior patterns

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Barriers to Involving Parents/Home in Schools and Schooling
  Forms of Barriers:
Negative Attitudes
Forms of Barriers:
Lack of Mechanisms/Skills
Forms of Barriers:
Practical Deterrents
Types of Barriers:
e.g., school administration is hostile toward increasing homes involvement e.g., insufficient staff assigned to planning and implementing ways to enhance home involvement; no more than a token effort to accommodate different languages e.g., low priority given to home involvement in allocating resources such as space, time, and money
Types of Barriers:
e.g., home involvement suffers from benign neglect e.g., rapid influx of immigrant families eventfulness school's ability to communicate and provide relevant home involvement activities e.g., school lacks resources; majority in home have problems related to work schedules, child care, transportation
Types of Barriers:
e.g., specific teachers and parents feel home involvement is not worth the effort or feel threatened by such involvement e.g., specific teachers and parents lack relevant language and interpersonal skills e.g., specific teachers and parents are too busy or lack resources

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