Social-Emotional Support Strategies for Families

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For the past seven weeks, our students, our parents, our teachers – yes, our entire community has had to adapt in many different ways.

During times like this people will have different responses. Feeling sadness or frustration or may be feeling lonely or even stuck, it is normal to go through a range of emotions. Most of us are unable to spend time in our normal circle of support.

But what else happens during times like this? Growth. Although we may not know it we are practicing resilience and perseverance each day. However, growth is not always easy.

That is why we have collected strategies* for our community to use at home.

Encourage Reflection

Virtual School students are likely going through a range of emotions. This is healthy and normal. Talk to your child about how they are feeling. It is not unusual that children are angry about the school closure, and about the coronavirus. There is so much they do not understand, and that can cause them to feel frustrated. Ask them to reflect on how they feel about their accomplishments and their efforts.

Here’s What You Can Do

    • Ask your child how they are feeling
    • Ask your child to reflect on their accomplishments
    • Acknowledge your child’s efforts

Create Routines

In school, there are clearly defined routines. Routines help us feel calmer and in control. We know what to expect. Currently, teachers are working on helping students establish those routines within Virtual School. Explore how those routines can be expanded to support your health and wellness, too.

Here’s What You Can Do

    • Set times to connect with friends
    • Go outdoors
    • Find ways to exercise
    • Get plenty of sleep

Set Limits on News Consumption

We are all naturally curious about what is happening with the coronavirus in Vietnam and the world. We hear news from our friends and from news sources. Older students connect to each other and news sources via social media. But do not get caught in refreshing news feeds and checking constantly. This is not healthy for ourselves or our families. A daily routine can be to set aside a specific time, and time limit, to check the news and then go back to your tasks.

Here’s What You Can Do

    • Set aside a specific time, with a time limit, to check the news
    • Talk to your child about what they have heard

Get the Facts

Another part of our digital lives is knowing where to get factual information that we can trust. Our Middle School and High School students know all about questioning news sources to make sure the information is true and valid. Our elementary students are just learning about media literacy. Work with them. Discuss what they are reading and where they are hearing things that they are bringing up.

Here’s What You Can Do

    • Check the sources of your information
    • Ensure that what you know, or have heard, is true

Listen to Your Emotions

It is really important to reflect and think about how you are doing. For our Elementary students, we call this self-awareness. Self-awareness is a life skill that helps us understand our feelings and needs. Acknowledge the feelings that you are feeling, they are valid. The more you acknowledge your feelings, the more you can take steps to take care of yourself. One helpful way for our children to grow their self-awareness is to keep a journal and, or to take time to speak with a parent or friend about their day.

Here’s What You Can Do

Ask yourself the following questions, and prompt your children to ask themselves these questions too.

    • What went well today?
    • What is one thing that you appreciated today?
    • An emotion I experienced today was…, and I felt this way because…
    • One thing that inspired me today was…
    • What didn’t work today? What can you learn from that?
    • One thing I learned about myself today is…
    • A small win today was…

Ask Your Family to Share Stories of Challenges They Overcame

Hearing grandparents’ and parents’ stories about how they overcame challenges, can give you the strength to overcome your own difficulties. Ask family members to share their stories with you. When we practice resilience, overcoming challenges, we draw on many character strengths such as courage, hope, and gratitude. Hearing stories from our family members is also a great way to get to strengthen connections and learn more about the history of our family.

Here’s What You Can Do

    • Reach out to a family member and ask them if there’s been a challenge they overcame.
    • Reflect on how their situation was similar or different from yours.
    • Write the stories down and reflect on how they overcame their challenges.

Take a Brain Break

Charge your batteries with a break away from your daily routine of work or schoolwork. Creative activities are great for that. Try to incorporate something creative into each day.

Here’s What You Can Do

    • Get a clean sheet of paper and doodle
    • Sing with your child or by yourself
    • Put on your favorite music and dance
    • Go on a photo walk with your child, taking pictures with your phone

Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Physical Activity

There are many advantages to maintaining our physical health during times like these. Being physically active helps us focus and it keeps us fit. Come up with ways that you can exercise indoors and outdoors – the PE teachers in each division have shared great resources and are always happy to share more. Also, when you exercise with friends, you will have the additional benefit of strengthening relationships.

Here’s What You Can Do

    • Fit in exercise every day, even if just 10 minutes
    • Combine exercise with social interaction, go for a stroll with a friend

Be Proactive

Don’t wait for someone to suggest something to you. Why not take the initiative and be the planner? Pull out a board game for your family to play after dinner, plan a surprise for your sister or best friend, meet a classmate in the park. Being proactive in making plans, makes us feel more in control while experiencing the positive emotion of hope.

Here’s What You Can Do

    • Call a friend
    • Send a note to someone you are thinking about
    • Pull out cards or a board game after dinner

At the end of all of our efforts and strategies, probably one of the most important things for our wellbeing centers around the emotional support that we give and receive from those around us.

Our school community is a big part of our lives and it is important to remember that we are all in this together. There are others going through the same emotions as you are. You are not alone. Seek help from any of the school resources, tell someone how you are feeling. Reach out to a friend, ask them how they are feeling.

Together, we can keep our community happy and healthy.

* The strategies listed are inspired by the article “Ten Strategies for Educators’ Wellbeing”