We are preparing to go back to school soon and every district is doing something different. While there’s one thing that’s the same through this all is that we miss our students and it’s overwhelming. This whole situation. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that the Australian Wildfires happened at the start of 2020 too. This year has been crazy.
I have often found myself overwhelmed by the news so much I cannot process it so I turn my phone off. I put everything down so I don’t start to spiral out of control. Everyday is hard to swallow the pains and burdens of the world but also in my own personal life. One day I was overwhelmed, I began to start processing of how are students feeling. At least I have some grasp of the world. But how does this affect a child. Someone’s who’s world is completely different and younger then mine.
As teachers we are going to walk into this. The effects this has on a child’s whole being and how it effects their dimensions of health. We as teachers will have to help them process this world and help it make sense. Honestly, this can add to the overwhelm we face but, I would like to provide a couple tips and resources which can be helpful walking into this situation. While they may understand COVID- 19 and what it is now, we still need to walk through the emotions and ways it is changing these students lives!
First we need to discuss, what is social emotional learning?
Kids do not understand their emotions yet. Sometimes they are acting angry (hitting or yelling) because they are sad. It takes time for this to develop in our students. Our job is to help them explore their feelings. KIds can label feelings by three years old but, they may not be able to explain why they are feeling a certain way or how to process that emotion. This is where social emotional learning comes to play.
Social Emotional Learning has 5 different components:
- Self Awareness – Awareness of how we are feeling and what we are doing to others
- Self Management – Managing our emotions
- Social Awareness – Empathizing with others and how we influence other people
- Relationship Skills – maintaining healthy relationships of all kinds
- Responsible Decision – Making smart choices based off of many reasons
We as teachers can walk into our classroom and gymnasium and be able to help our students understand their emotions. Let them talk with our students when they are struggling or we can have them journal. We need to teach our students healthy coping mechanisms. We can teach them journaling, talking it out, exercising, deep breathing and, many more ways. I think the biggest thing with all of this is teaching the students the skills. You do not have to be perfect at it but we should never push down our students feelings. We cannot fix the issues and situations they are in but, we can help them learn how to process.
Below are resources I think that are helpful for opening the discussion of COVID-19 and different procedures you need to do in your classrooms now. I also have added some coping mechanisms and social emotional learning links.
BrainPOP is amazing and started when I was in elementary school. They are animated characters, one is a Robot named Moby and a human named Tim! They make videos on all sort of educational things especially science! They break it down for kids. I remember watching them and loving them! They have made many videos about COVID and different things related to them! I have linked these below. They can help spark conversation and help you the teacher know how to explain these subjects.
- How does Soap work? Video
- How to wash your hands? Video
- What is COVID-19? Video
- COVID PSA: Video
- Flattening the Curve: Video
- Social Distancing: Video
This website is full of different resources aimed at helping children process COVID-19. Child life specialists are usually individuals who help children understand what is happening to them in a hospital in a kid friendly way! Check out the website here!This website links to lots of files that can be helpful with students! My favorite files are:
- Family Guidebook
- Coping with COVID-19 workbook
- COVID 19 Activity Book
Now I know.. this song is probably really annoying to us adults because it becomes an ear worm but, if you work with younger students then their handwashing song will be perfect for you. It teaches kids how to wash their hands and is catchy enough the kids can sign it while watching their hands. It also talks about covering sneezes and coughing into your elbow. Check out the video below!
Coping Mechanisms for kids:
As we work on social emotional learning with our students and them getting back into a school routine they will need coping mechanisms. This website lays out many coping skills for kids and how you can start this with your students.
Check out the website here!
Social Emotional Learning
We as teachers have probably gotten a lot of education in this but, I want to share some links that help emphasize the importance of social emotional learning!
I hope these resources and thoughts are helpful for going back to school. This school year is going to be hard so make sure you take time for yourself. You cannot pour from an empty bucket. You are so important and so are your students. Be ok stepping into the vulnerable moments and help those students of yours process their emotions.