Beyond the Core Subjects: Student Wellness Everyday

Student Wellness

Supporting your whole student...

When students show up at a school building every day, school counselors, school leaders, teachers, and their colleagues work hard to address young people’s social-emotional learning (SEL) needs by helping them develop self-awareness, self-management, and interpersonal skills. During this time of remote learning and social distancing, how can we continue to support the SEL and wellness needs of our students, especially in light of widespread stress and anxiety?At Teaching Matters, we recognize that it’s time to get creative about how to attend to SEL and student wellness needs right now. We have created student-facing content laid out by core subject areas and aligned with Common Core and Next Generation Standards to help K-8 educators manage the transition to remote learning. These materials include four developmentally appropriate wellness and SEL activity breaks each day that address many of the eight social and emotional competencies. They are ready to use and can be customized for the virtual classroom. Click here for student-facing materials. In this piece, we will explain how and why the breaks are strategically incorporated throughout the day's core content materials, and how counselors and their colleagues can use these activities to support students.

Each day includes four breaks as transitions between core content area lessons. The first is a movement break consisting of exercise, dance, and yoga videos to give students the opportunity to exert some energy while at home, get their blood flowing, and hopefully release dopamine. Staying physically active will help reduce anxiety and stress.

After students complete another content area lesson, an arts-related activity gets students’ creativity flowing. Students may be asked to explore at home with a particular art technique such as Pointillism, take a virtual tour of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (Smithsonian Institution in DC), or dive into a weeklong artist study of Frida Kahlo or Romero Britto.

Each day also incorporates one or more SEL breaks that support students in identifying how they are feeling so that students enhance their awareness and positively manage these emotions. The activities in the slides can be modified for the grade level(s) that you support. For example, we encourage you to ask your students age-appropriate questions about how they are feeling (self-awareness and monitoring). Additionally, the activities use easy online tools that tap into the social nature of students. An example of this can be seen in the activity below where students are asked to create a meme that expresses or sums up their feelings for the day.

take a break meme

There are also activities, such as Melody Maker shown below, that ask students to create visuals about how they are feeling. This visual can be an art piece or the creation of a musical scale. The importance of making sure to include art and music to stimulate the students' whole brain is essential.

Music visual

Each day ends with a meditation, guided imagery, or creative SEL activity. Some lessons also encourage non-screen activities that can be assigned to students to get them to further engage their creative sides and again tap into their feelings. These activities encourage students to take a much-needed break from the screen.

Screen time break

See recording of our SEL webinar and schedule of upcoming Teaching Matters trainings.

schoolsupport@teachingmatters.org

By: Alison Cohen, Marley Spooner & Maria Underwood

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