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SEL Distance Learning Update: Family Edition April 29, 2020

Social-Emotional Learning During the COVID-19 Pandemic

As compared to adults, children are far more vulnerable to the emotional impact of traumatic events, especially those that alter their everyday lives. With the COVID-19 pandemic, daily life has been severely disrupted as most children are facing significant changes to their routines as the result of school closures, cancelled activities, and social distancing from friends and loved ones. These changes, along with the stress that children notice and face in their environments such as financial instability and food insecurity, may interfere with their sense of safety, predictability, and security.

While children tend to be resilient and most will return to their typical functioning with the support and love of emotionally responsive caregivers, some may experience more significant mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. Children with prior exposure to trauma and mental health disorders are especially vulnerable. Thus, in addition to keeping our children physically safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential to keep them emotionally safe.

Below are some resources and supports that follow social-emotional learning (SEL) themes that are especially relevant given the current climate. They also follow many of the lessons that teachers may be exploring with their students.

Exploring and Managing Emotions Part I

Identifying Feelings

During stressful times it is especially important that students have the ability to communicate their feelings. Before they can do this, students must first be able to identify their feelings.

In My Heart: A Book of Feelings by Jo Witek helps us identify and explore our many feelings. Please enjoy this read aloud that introduces several emotions that our students may be experiencing at this time.

Meet Up/Dinner Table Conversations

  • Younger children: Today I felt ____ because ______.
  • Older children: High Point/Low Point with feelings and/or Scale of 1-10
  • My high point of the day was . . . . When I experienced that I felt . . . .
  • My low point of the day was . . . . When I experienced that I felt . . . .
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, I feel ____ because _____.

Ideas for Integration throughout the Day

  • Ask your children about the feelings of characters in books and movies.
  • Model labeling your emotions and ask your children about how they are feeling.
Expressing Feelings to Others

Miss Chelsea (& Baylee) read The Way I Feel by Janan Cain

One way for children to express their feelings to others is by using I-Messages/I-Statements. This provides a structure and predictability to expressing emotions during less predictable times such the one that our students are experiencing now.

Tips for Parents

  • Help your child label his/her emotions and encourage your child to talk about how he/she is feeling as this gives your child a vocabulary to talk about feelings
  • Give your child lots of opportunities to identify feelings. You can do this by asking questions while reading books, watching movies, or even just reflecting on the day. For example, if your child played a game and won you can say, “It looked like you had a lot of fun playing the game and winning. How did you feel when you won?”
  • Talk about your own feelings and different ways that you responded when you were feeling a certain way (both positive and not so positive examples work well as long as you reflect on what you could have done differently).
  • Model and practice using I-Statements and not just during conflict situations.

Meet Up/Dinner Table Conversations

  • Younger children: Model acting out different feelings and have fun making different facial expressions. Encourage kids to play and make silly faces. After, give them a chance to think about how they are feeling, encourage them to act it out, and then guess their emotions. After guessing, have kids use an I statement to express their feeling (i.e. Today I felt ____ because ___).
  • Older children: Weather Report: Ask kids, “If your mood were the weather, what would it be?” For example, if you’re angry it could be a thunderstorm or a tornado, or if you’re happy it could be sunny. Give them a chance to think, then share their mood. They can choose to explain and elaborate on their feelings, or not.

Ideas for Integration throughout the Day

  • Role model using an “I-Statement” during the day to either your child or another member of your family.
  • I feel _____ when you _____ because ________ and I want _______.
  • Identify feelings in your child and others.
  • Talk about feelings they have and those that you see in others. “I hear you laughing, are you happy?” Or “She fell down; how do you think she feels?”.
  • Talk about how feelings can be expressed.
  • Lead by example. Talk about your own feelings and how you express those feelings. What do you do when you get angry? How do people know you are happy? Talk about ways that your child expresses their emotions.
Week 3: Identifying and Managing Anger

Anger is a common feeling that children may experience during stressful times such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. While it's expected to feel angry from time to time, sometimes our reactions can be unexpected and impact our daily functioning. This week's lesson and resources focus on the emotion of anger as well as ways to self-regulate.

Cool Down and Work Through Anger by Cheri J. Meiners, M.Ed. is a story that discusses the emotion, anger and ways to calm our bodies when we feel this way.

Second Step Video Lessons on Anger (Free during school closures)

Meet Up/Dinner Table Conversations

  • Younger children: Explore different ways of expressing and dealing with emotions. When discussing anger talk about what gets you angry, how you react emotionally and physically, and what helps you to calm down. Allow your child to come up with their own solutions. Even if they are not appropriate, talk about why they aren’t and help come up with an alternative. Always praise your child when they can talk about their feelings! For example, when was a time that you felt angry? What happened? Did you notice a change in your body and/or thoughts when you were mad? How did you deal with it? What helps you to calm down? How can I help you when you are angry? What is a safe way to express your anger?)
  • Older children: Weather Report: Ask kids, “If your mood were the weather, what would it be?” For example, if you’re angry it could be a thunderstorm or a tornado, or if you’re happy it could be sunny. Give them a chance to think, then share their mood. They can choose to explain and elaborate on their feelings, or not.

Ideas for Integration throughout the Day

Create a “Grateful Jar” with your kids. Have everyone in your family write one thing that they are grateful for every day and put that piece of paper in the jar. Create a time every other day or so where you will pick a few pieces out of the jar and read them aloud. The person who wrote it can elaborate. This helps focus on positive thinking and gratitude.

Resources
Created By
Elizabeth Gianulis
Appreciate