How is your family doing? How are our students doing? How are you doing? Throughout the six weeks that we have been separated from learning, communication and connections have all drastically changed. COVID-19 has created uncertainty for your family. Normal work, school, daycare, and social activities have been upset. These changes can create unpredictability which can fuel anxiety, stress, tempers, and emotions.
The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning has identified five social and emotional areas that we develop as children (and adults) in all aspects of life. Using these areas, we can help support our children during this unusual time.
Self-awareness—having a realistic perception of one’s own values, interests, and strengths, and being able to recognize one’s own emotions. It is important to help children, teens, and adults identify how they are feeling and acknowledge that they are not alone, reminding them that we will get through this.
Recognizing their emotions and creating healthy ways to handle emotions in a positive manner builds self-awareness. Using their strengths and interests to find hobbies will combat boredom and now may be the perfect time to learn something new.
Self-management—how well one manages emotions, impulses, and stress, and whether one is able to establish and achieve goals and exercise self-discipline. Children may have concerns about what is going on or may behave differently because of the disruption in their routines.
Creating and keeping a routine or schedule is important to maintaining focus on the things we can control, as so much of what is happening around us is out of our immediate control. It is normal to feel symptoms of depression and anxiety as our normal routine changes.
Change, when we don’t have control over it, is hard. Having routines help reduce the stress and anxiety of the unknown. Work with your family to develop routines that support your basic needs as well as your social-emotional needs.
Social awareness—the ability to take the perspective of and empathize with someone else and to appreciate and respect diversity. Be mindful and respectful of each other’s feelings and experiences. Practicing compassion, showing others that we recognize the emotions and perspectives they hold, increases social awareness.
At home, you can help practice this skill. If a child is reading a book, for example, ask them to describe how a character feels and thinks in a particular scene and have them describe how they know that.
Relationship skills—the ability to participate in healthy, cooperative, and caring relationships, and effectively resolve conflicts. Social distancing has created many unique ways to connect with friends and extended family.
Staying connected helps to continue building on the relationships we already have and is important to help us feel less isolated or alone. Finding positive ways to continue to connect with friends is important for kids and adults.
Responsible decision-making—the ability to recognize and generate good choices, evaluate the likely consequences of actions, and take responsibility for one’s decisions. Teach children to look at the pros and cons while working through the decision-making process and reflecting on their decisions. Allowing students the opportunity to make simple decisions will help grow independence.
As the school closure continues, if you have questions, please reach out to your child’s teachers or the school.
Teachers are reaching out to students through Google classroom and setting up Google meets via email and phone. Through these changes, challenges, and times of uncertainty, we wish your families well.
Christina McCaw is the Mexico school district’s director of social-emotional learning, behavior and intervention.