It is no surprise that in recent years there has been increased attention on the mental health of our students. As schools prepare for another year, it is important to take note of how you can better help your students, families, and staff.
Why implement Social Emotional Learning in the classroom?
Research has shown that SEL promotes self awareness, academic achievement, and positive behavior not only in the classroom but also out of the classroom. Many teachers have implemented some form of SEL in the classroom in recent years.
93% of teachers believe SEL has a place in the classroom and for good reason. SEL helps students thrive but also helps create a more cohesive classroom environment through: fewer disciplinary action, increased academic performance, reduction in classroom disruption and open communication. What the research shows
Why use an SEL curriculum such as “My Best Me”?
Implementing an SEL curriculum like “My Best Me” ensures best practice for best results. Not only that, a good curriculum comes with good teacher support which helps take the stress out of planning and execution. A curriculum takes the guesswork out.
How to choose the best curriculum for your school:
Consider the age: Many SEL curriculums are written for a certain age group. For example, the “My Best Me” curriculum is written for students as young as preschool age, all the way up to highschool. Other curriculum may be written just for high school age or elementary age students.
Does it meet your budget constraints? Of course each curriculum has a cost attached to it and these costs must be taken into consideration when deciding which curriculum is best.
Does the curriculum come with support or training? It is important that teachers are supported when implementing new curriculum. Through training and teachers’ resources. “My Best Me” comes with not only teacher training but also provides teachers with everything they need to implement the lesson in their classroom.
Does the SEL curriculum focus on what is pertinent to your school district and your families? Every SEL program is unique and focuses on different topics. “My Best Me” for example focuses on: Identity, Health, Community, Environment and Economics.
Does the program implement evidence based social emotional learning?
Hats off and cheers to teachers! You did it! If you’re reading this, you survived teaching through a pandemic—uncharted waters. Our appreciation and admiration goes out to you beyond words. All the things you had in place through your education and experience were like a “table cloth trick” yanked away for you to try to keep everything in place on the table with your students learning. Now another school year is in the books!
If you got used to virtual learning/teaching, not so fast, you will more than likely return to your more familiar in-person teaching if you haven’t already. Your rhythms and routines have changed back and forth. Like a chameleon, you have adapted and made it work.
Teachers, The old McDonald’s commercial jingle said, “You deserve a break today…” If anyone has deserved it, it is you!
Here are a few tips to put your school year in the past and enjoy a summer of relaxation and de-stressing:
Treat yourself –You are a survivor and this is an act of self-care. This may mean going to your local ice cream place and splurging on your favorite sundae or purchasing that pair of shoes you’ve had your eye on.
Read a good book – Your time off is a great time to enjoy a book by the pool, on a beach, or on a hammock in the backyard. Your escape to another time or another place through reading distracts you from daily stressors.
Exercise – Go to your neighborhood gym to do your favorite work-out or join a session of fun classes. Keeping your body fit through exercise will release endorphins that improve your physical and emotional being.
Get away from the routines and schedules – If your time and resources can’t afford an out-of-town vacation, spend a night away at a hotel or bed and breakfast. Take a day trip to a great state park or water park.
Make memories – Be intentional about going to lunch with friends and about having fun with children and/or grandchildren. Now is the time, because it slips away so quickly.
Revive an old hobby – Creativity through writing helps to manage emotions. Creativity through drawing and painting expresses emotions. Music is therapeutic in relaxation.
The pandemic took its toll. If your emotional health is in serious jeopardy, please seek out a good counselor to work through this. You are valuable, teacher. Your self-care is important to students and parents alike. Have a blast during this much needed summer break!
Laughter releases outwardly the expression of your soul, lifts your spirit, and gives life and healing energy to your body. The Bible says in Proverbs 17:22 “A cheerful heart is good medicine.”
What makes you laugh? Is it the giggle of a small child? The punch line of a good joke? A dry sense of humor? Maybe even laughing at yourself or everyday life mishaps?
Did you ever stop to consider what happens when you laugh? Stress hormones decrease; immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies increase improving resistance to disease. It truly is good medicine.
Laughter is like an electric current that runs through our nervous system. It creates great physical responses. Both hemispheres of the brain are activated–the left side decodes the words and the more creative right hemisphere understands the humor. Our emotional system then releases endorphins (natural feel-good chemicals) that improve our mood and promote happiness. Our abs and facial muscles can even benefit from a good laugh impacting our health.
Laughter is the social mechanism by which we make friends and connect with others. The next time, you run into an old friend who says “we need to get together”, do it! Send them a couple choices of dates and places then meet—make it happen! You will no doubt laugh together and leave having experienced all these benefits to your body, soul and spirit.
In Disney’s live action film, “Cinderella”, Cinderella’s mother says to her “have courage and be kind.” Parents, in a world where social media is forefront and judging others seems to be the norm, I challenge you to teach your children to be kind. Don’t make the false assumption that they will learn it from their peers. On the flipside, raise kind kids and they will have a positive influence on their peer group for we know that kindness is contagious.
Webster defines the word kind as “of a sympathetic or helpful nature”. Another dictionary defines kindness as “the quality of being warmhearted and considerate.” Here are some ways to begin to teach your children to be kind.
Model kindness. The lesson of kindness your children will remember most is what they see you do. If you want kind kids, be kind. Practice it daily in front of your little ones who are watching your every move.
Take a walk in others’ shoes. Teach your children to think about what others are going through—why are they sad or mad; what might be going on in their family. Also ask them how they would feel and how they would want to be treated in those circumstances. If your child can consider that there might be a reason for their friend’s behavior, they will be more sympathetic towards them and more apt to offer kindness. Volunteering is also a great way to teach kids about walking in others’ shoes.
Positive words of encouragement. Teach your kids to speak words that build up and not words that tear down. Teach them that you can always find something nice to say. For example, if they think a friend’s painting is not great, they can tell them they like the colors they chose. Choosing kind words will encourage those around them to also be positive and to withhold judgmental comments.
Teach manners. Saying “please” and “thank you”; looking at someone when spoken to; showing respect to others; writing thank you notes or letters; table manners, etc. These things will mold your child to be pleasant individuals.
Avoid overindulgence. Even if you have the means to spoil your children, make the choice not to overdo it. Teach them to be grateful for the things they have and to share their blessings with others. Also teach contentment. Overindulgence only leaves children not satisfied and always wanting more—self-centeredness and stinginess.
Random Acts of Kindness Day is February 17. Mark Twain said “Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” Be creative and think of doing something for someone who cannot return the favor to you. Involve your kids in this plan. You and your kids will be blessed just as much as the recipient of the kindness—maybe more!
Encourage your child to make friends! The benefits are numerous! Friendships will help them develop in many areas of their social and emotional learning. Playing with peers develops your child’s imagination and creativity. It helps them with decision-making since parental micromanaging is not in the picture. By interacting with their friends, children find a sense of belonging which in turn, helps decrease the stress they might feel in social situations.
Experts say that meaningful relationships between friends form at about 4-5 years old. Unless you have the little “social butterfly”, you may need to give guidance to your child when it comes to making friends. Here’s some ideas how:
Recognize their strengths – By noticing what your child does best, you can build their confidence in going forward to make friends. You can also talk to them about communicating with other kids to find out things they have in common. Schedule play dates with kids who are compatible with them.
Role play – Teach your child how to meet a new potential friend. Give them something to say to introduce themselves and questions they can ask. Practice this with them.
Teach them friendship qualities – Friends are happy when the other has accomplishments or celebrations. Friends don’t gossip behind each other’s backs. Friends offer help, understanding and compassion when the other is feeling down and discouraged. Friends aren’t afraid to include others in the circle of friends—no bullying! Friends work things out in an argument.
Model friendship – Children will learn most from their parents’ behavior and example. What you do with your friendships will speak louder than all the words you can say to your child. When they see you in healthy friendships, they will mimic what you do and how you treat your friends. Your efforts in helping your child develop friendships will result in them being fulfilled and well-adjusted.