While exciting and full of opportunity, back-to-school season can also be a stressor for young people worried about classes, new friends, old friends, or a new environment or grade level. Social and emotional skills can help students face emotions that feel negative or scary without acting out in the ways people usually do when we feed negative or scared.
The following strategies help students combat those emotions, while also preparing them for all of the fun academic learning that will happen in the year ahead!
The first step in self-regulating emotions is being aware of them! With your child, become an emotion scientist and investigate how you both are feeling.
Ask things like, Are you feeling nervous about going back to school? Scared? Are you excited to see your friends? Parents, be sure to share your feelings as well to model for your child that it’s ok to not be ok!
Investigating emotions together can help you both understand why certain actions (like tearful mornings or shy drop offs) are happening and on the whole can lead better humans.
So many great children’s books out there help students learn or practice the basics of classroom interaction on the page before testing it out at school.
Children’s literature can introduce concepts like self-awareness, self-management, relationship skills, and so much more. Plus it gives kids a jumpstart on reading!
Check out this reading roundup to get started.
What better way to prepare for a fun year of learning than having fun? While playing games or participating in recess may seem auxiliary to academic education, it’s really a foundational part of a well-rounded classroom.
Play introduces concepts like cooperation, navigating conflict, kindness, and resiliency, without addressing them head-on, kind of like hiding good-for-you vegetables in cheese. Because play can release nerves and put children at ease, and games naturally involve risk-taking, it also helps students have the courage to tackle intimidating things like new math concepts or vocabulary words.
While play can be a great tool, educators should be sure to set up a play structure so that shy children or new students have an easy way to get involved and build new relationships.
Unsure about what “social and emotional learning” even means? Head over to our back-to-school refresher here.