As school continues to remain closed, many students are struggling with expressing their emotions as well as learning and practicing social skills. It is important to explicitly teach children how to take turns, share, listen, follow rules, transition to a new activity and be flexible. This is not easy for a kindergartener or first grader to learn through zoom school, especially with limited teaching hours; however some of the programs/resources below may be helpful for parents to help supplement their child’s social emotional learning. Tutors can also teach these skills individually or in pods for busy working parents. Pod learning also reduces isolation while at the same time allows families to stay safe with limited possible virus exposure.
Independently, parents can model journaling for almost all ages of children. Younger students can draw what makes them grateful, frustrated or sad while older children can write their feelings in sentences or paragraphs, with sentence frames provided for younger students or students with learning differences. This does take some parent or tutor interaction, but can be valuable to prevent children from holding in their feelings.
Parents and tutors can also teach young students to share their emotions through a color chart system and check in with students throughout the day morning, afternoon and night or even as frequently as every 2- 3hours. Students can share their current state by using colored cards to share their emotions. Yellow for anxious or excited; red for angry; blue for sad, sick, or tired.
It is also important to teach children about new social norms regarding social distancing and sitting in a pre-measured carpet pieces or holding a rope with knots marking safe space. This is important as students will eventually transition to in person classes with new expected rules. Parents and tutors should also teach lessons on proper “touching.” Instead of giving a hug, teaching students to give a fist bump or elbow tap can be more appropriate as well as waving or air hugs.
Some helpful ways to practice managing and recognizing emotions is to play charades. You can use your entire body or voice to get students to guess the emotion that is being displayed. Another idea is to present different situations to your child and ask how they might feel and react to each. Parents can also use guided stories or videos to identify conflict and possible behavior solutions for problems.
We hope the following resources will be helpful: