Socially Distant but Mentally Connected: “Maintaining Social Emotional Learning (S.E.L) Post Quarantine”

by: Yureka Pirtle


When leaving the schoolhouse doors for Spring Break I remember being so happy that we received an extra day in addition to our week-long break. I packed up my things and decided I would leave my computer on my desk to begin working on some reports when we returned. Little did I know, one month would turn into two, two into three and three into the summer break. There have been many discussions focused on how students will bridge the gap in learning that happened during quarantine, but how do we address students who have had issues maintaining and improving soft skills or students that have had traumatic events during this time? As a parent, one of the things that I have been concerned about is my son’s social development. While in quarantine “Mommy” has been his best friend. What is going to happen when he is back in the classroom with 15 other four-year-olds and trying to adhere to CDC guidelines that have been proposed?

Example: We arrived back at home from grocery shopping yesterday. When we started walking towards our house, there was a group of children playing on the grass area between our house and the next. My son proceeds to put his hand up to his ear and gesture as if he was talking on the phone. One of the kids waved, my son waved back and kept mimicking that he was having this major discussion on the phone and could not be bothered at the moment. Is he over other kids now? #CovidConcerns20 

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Social-Emotional Learning is referred to as learning life skills that can include coping skills, dealing with others, and relationships. It helps us to recognize and manage our emotions. As a Professional School Counselor, I have seen S.E.L activities help students develop empathy and sympathy for others while learning to foster positive relationships. It also helps educators to develop more authentic relationships with their students. 

Here are some activities to help foster your child’s social-emotional skills:

Game: Hot or Cold

Goal: To encourage kids to become more self-aware of their emotions and what they are feeling inside. Kids are able to brainstorm skills to calm and self-regulate or ask for help. 

How to play: Make a picture of a thermometer and write the word “hot” at the bottom and “cold” at the top. (For added engagement, draw pictures of areas/things/scenes for hot and cold weather). When your child says they feel anxious or overwhelmed ask if they feel peaceful and cool or hot and frustrated. Depending on where your child falls on the thermometer ask the following questions:

  • What made you feel that way?
  • How did your body feel when you began feeling this way?
  • What activity do you feel will bring you closer to calm and cool?

Game: Let’s Make a Deal

Goal: To help kids learn to compromise. Practicing how to see things from another person’s perspective can help your child consider other people’s needs.

How to play: When you and your child can’t agree, use the tune of “This Old Man” to sing these lines: “You want this. I want that. How can we both get what we want?” Then brainstorm solutions and choose the best idea for right now. For example, if your child is demanding to bake cookies at 8 a.m., the best solution might be to wait two hours so you can bake when the baby is napping. (From: www.understood.org)

Websites for more information and activities 

  • Edutopia.org/social-emotional-learning-parent-resources
  • Casel.org 

Parenting apps that help with Social Emotional Learning (S.E.L )

  • Parachute: a user-friendly, research-backed parenting app that provides easy access to solutions for common parenting challenges.
  • Mind Yeti: a mindfulness app with guided sessions that help kids destress, focus, get along with others, and relax.
  • Confident Parents, Confident Kids: a site with parent and child resources that support social-emotional development.
  • Parent Toolkit: a site with information and articles about all aspects of child development.

App recommendations from www.parenttoolkit.com 

How will school life be after covid19? How will students be able to maintain connections and these positive relationships that they worked so hard to foster? We talk a lot about a school not just being about education but also about the experience. How can we see the joy in a student’s face as they laugh at a funny joke? I believe the key is to come up with new innovative ways to engage with students. It will be a must in the upcoming months. We know that “school after COVID” will be different but we have to ensure that the experience is still rich, full of learning and growing in all aspects of our students’ lives. The ultimate goal is happy, healthy, thriving adults. 


Author/Blogger of “Creative Curves” to read more from this author make sure to visit her website by clicking on her picture to the left.


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