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School Therapist Says Students Are Struggling To Understand The Most 'Basic Information' About Themselves

Photo: ESB Professional / Shutterstock 
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When many of us were younger, school taught us important concepts like how to multiply, divide, write and read sentences. Other concepts such as our names, ages, birthdays, and details about our families were ones that we already knew before we even stepped foot in the classroom. 

Today, however, many children — even those who are close to their teen years — fail to understand the most basic things about themselves, and those who work in schools claim that it's only getting worse. 

According to a school therapist, students are struggling to learn and recall the ‘most basic’ information about themselves, including their birthdays and ages. 

In a TikTok video, a therapist who goes by Jel explained just how critical the issue has become in schools. 

The video was posted in response to a fellow school counselor who claimed that many of his seventh-grade students were performing at a fourth-grade level. Jel echoed his point, even saying that students’ failure to grasp simple concepts goes beyond the classroom. 



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She shared that when she first meets students, she starts by asking them “very basic” questions about themselves such as their name and birthday. While many of them do not understand that the term “date of birth” is equivalent to “birthday,” some are unaware of when their birthday even is. 

“I just had a session today where I asked a student what their date of birth was…the student had no idea when their birthday was,” Jel recalled. “They referred to holidays around when their birthday was.” 

When she asked the mid-elementary school student their age, they had to think about it as if it were a particularly difficult question. Even once they determined their age, identifying their birth year was yet another struggle.

She attempted to guide them through the process, telling them to subtract their age from the current year to determine what year they were born, but it wasn't that simple. “They really had a hard time doing that math,” Jel said. 

The therapist reported that many students are unaware of other basic things about themselves, such as their home addresses.

When asked where they lived, some of the students would turn to their parents, if they were present, to find out. 

While Jel said that she cut her younger students some slack when they were stumped on the question of where they live, she was stunned to learn that even many of her middle-school and high-school-aged students could not give her an answer. 



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“I’m just so baffled,” she admitted. 

Jel is not the only one who has noticed a sharp decrease in students’ performances. 

Other people who work in education revealed that they have noticed similar behaviors. 

“I asked a student his sister's name and he said, ‘I don’t know.’ He is in 5th grade,” one TikTok user commented. "50 percent of my students can't spell their last names," another wrote. “I teach 4th grade and SOOO many kids don’t know their birthdays or the year they were born. I’ve even had students that don’t know their last name!!” a third user shared. 

Many of us may be curious to know why there appears to be a sudden decline in children who have their personal information memorized like many of us did when we were their age. 

While there is no official declared reason, many people argue that it is a generational issue.

With technology use increasing, some parents today do not interact with their children as much as their own parents did with them.

They believe that their children will gain much of their knowledge from what they see on their screens instead of teaching them directly. This overuse of technology — which social media has dubbed "iPad parenting" — has also resulted in defiant and unmanageable behavior by Gen Alpha kids, which educators online are also discussing. 



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Some parents may also think that their children will learn certain concepts on their own over time, or that they have already inherited intelligence. However, doctors and specialists encourage parents who think this way to begin changing their mindsets for the sake of their children

One way to do this is to engage in what is referred to as a 'maternal growth mindset.'

“A maternal growth mindset is the belief that you can grow your abilities through work and effort, and that I can help my children learn new things and grow and expand their abilities,”  Mei Elansary, a pediatric specialist at Boston Medical Center, wrote in a study published to The Harvard Gazette.

In a second video, Jel gave her insight into the answer. “It’s not like there’s no solution for this," she said. "The solution is just having these conversations with your kids."



It's important to sit down with your children and teach them even what appears to be the most “basic” things, like their birthdays, ages, and addresses. Should there ever be an emergency, these seemingly basic facts about themselves may just be life-saving. 

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Megan Quinn is a writer at YourTango who covers entertainment and news, self, love, and relationships.