The past few years have brought increased conversation about and emphasis on our mental health and that of children. Recently, CNN shared this story about our neighbor Denver Public Schools and how Social Emotional Learning has become a part of their daily practices with K-12 students during the school day. Work like this recognizes that social emotional well being and mental health are equally important life skills for our kids to learn and are necessary for them to be able to focus on other types of academic learning throughout the school day.
During the month of love, we wanted to share some tips we have found helpful for building this type of well being among young children. These resources for parents and educators can be valuable in helping kids understand and express their emotions in healthy ways to build their sense of resiliency and belonging in this world.
First, we recognize that one reality of the pandemic has required many children and their families to deal with grief and loss. This is both a tragic outcome of the pandemic, and one of the hardest parts for families to help their children cope with and express. We love this article from Kids Health New Zealand that breaks down how grief can manifest, and how you can support a child by age. For young children, conversation and play can be helpful ways for encouraging expression and understanding emotion. Some ideas include:
- Create a memory box
- Draw or write in a journal
- Write a letter to the person
- Create a poem in their honor
- Make art to express emotions
Similarly, especially with younger children, activities and play can be a great way to help kids learn to express all kinds of emotion and interact with others. We absolutely love these 5 social-emotional learning games that creatively use drawings of turtles, starfish, and more to help kids recognize, process, and understand their emotions and build empathy for others. Zero to Three breaks down skill development by age range and also provides resources in Spanish! NAEYC provides some other ideas for skill building at home including, using puppets, thinking out loud, and processing through bedtime stories.
Finally, WE Charity provides a great list of easy ways to show and share the love with children during the pandemic. From growing a garden and starting new traditions to turning someone’s day around and giving a gift, they provide some GREAT ways to build compassion and belonging amongst kids and adults alike.
We know how important it is to do this important skill building work. This is a big part of the work we invest in at the center. This work to help young children grow the skills they need to belong and succeed is critical to their development. Thank you for supporting our work. Learn more about how your monthly donation can continue to help us GROW and consider donating.