In-person learning isn’t just about memorizing math facts and learning to read. It’s where our kids figure out sharing, compassion, empathy, responsibility, decision-making, independence, and so much more. Unfortunately, these social-emotional skills are tough to teach through a computer screen. If you’re ready to implement a few creative techniques, you can support your child’s social-emotional learning from home. Yes — even in the middle of a global pandemic. Tip #1: Understand What Social-Emotional Skills Are Social-emotional skills are just what they sound like — the ability to interact with others, especially those with different backgrounds or cultures, and the ability to manage emotions in a healthy manner. These skills usually come naturally for adults, so it’s important to remember that they are things that need to be taught to our kids in a purposeful fashion. They not only lead to healthy adult lives, but they’ve been proven to increase academic achievement, improve attitude toward school, decrease stress and depression rates, and more. Tip #2: Utilize Board Games, Reading Out Loud, and Dinner Time Even though these activities don’t include interacting with people from outside of your home, they’re perfect for growing social-emotional skills within your own walls. Board games are excellent for emotion-management and self-control. They teach kids how to win and lose in an appropriate manner and they teach the magic of taking turns. They give the chance to practice appropriate eye contact, especially if you decide to keep the smartphones off the table. They aid in the development of patience, assertiveness, conflict resolution, positive decision-making (no cheating allowed!) and more, all while being disguised as a fun family activity. Games like charades can even teach about the various emotions and how to recognize them through facial features. Fill a hat with papers labelled “happy,” “sad,” “angry,” “worried,” “excited,” etc., and watch the learning (and entertainment) come to life. Reading out loud leads to parents and kids hearing social-emotional scenarios between the characters on the page. These are great moments to stop and chat about the right thing to do if your child were to ever find themselves in a similar situation. Dinner time can lead to some great conversations about how your days went and the feelings that came up with specific tasks or experiences. Encourage your child to share about their emotions and interactions when the topics arise, and walk them through a few steps that may make the challenge easier in the future. Tip #3: Make Some Creative Connections For Your Child From Home Social-emotional skills grow through practice. While our kids can move forward in these areas through pretend scenarios and family interaction, a few outside relationships can make a significant impact, too. These connections will have to be on the unique side, thanks to COVID-19. However, they’re still completely possible to create. You may want to consider:
Grabbing a penpal from the local assisted living facility for your child to write back and forth with
Scheduling Zoom calls with friends from school and having a silly game the kids can play together while they’re on the screen
Signing up for an online enrichment option, like those offered by Flex Academies
Requesting the help of a tutor who’s perfectly matched to get along well with your child and help them learn, too
Being a student during the times of COVID-19 is no easy feat. Luckily, there are tons of ways in which we can support our kids. Consider implementing a few of the tips on the list above to ensure they’re social-emotional skills are developing as much as they possibly can.