Routine and structure can help children and adults in uncertain times

However, the fallout from being isolated at home for so many months soon became apparent. Many students were withdrawn, their eyes glassy; emotional breakdowns occurred with a frequency never before seen, accompanied by heartbreaking screams, retreats under tables, attempts to run out of classrooms, and major challenges to self-regulation. Some seemed apathetic while others were affected by separation anxiety from parents or family members. While much of what we observed was new to us, the phenomenon was nationwide: it represented the residual emotional impacts on children of endless, anxiety-filled shutdown with very limited contact. with peers, daily structure or predictability of routines. The notion of teaching as we knew it started to change again, as many students were in no way socially, emotionally, or even academically prepared to pick up where we left off before the pandemic.

However, what we were going to do next had already been planned by my district. During the pandemic, my district had a comprehensive guidance document in place, modeled after Ohio’s K-12 Social and Emotional Learning Standards, focusing on climate, culture, and behavioral skills. positive. The document included supplemental book lists and learning activities, which helped students learn self-regulation, conflict resolution, communication skills, and increased empathy and flexibility. Essentially, these mini-lessons taught the skills needed to be together again, with each class focusing on one skill each week. Students watched short video clips and teachers led discussions based on skill-based scenarios. While reading the stories, we paused to discuss the words and thoughts of various characters. Students were encouraged to share how they would handle the situation experienced by the storybook character.