July 22, 2020
For years to come, it may be difficult to measure the impact of the COVID pandemic on the children of today, given that nearly every student on the planet will be touched in some way by it. Like other challenging times throughout history, the degree of that impact will vary significantly. So, too, will the effects on child development. Y4Y urges 21st CCLC professionals to take some time at this crucial juncture to review our Social and Emotional Learning course and Trauma-Informed Care Click & Go and arm yourself with tools to help students stay as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as circumstances allow. While there’s no simple solution, keeping these basics of a healthy childhood in mind will help you be of greatest value in the lives of your students until that day in the future when this is all behind us. Here are some simple actions you can take:
- Positive youth development supports positive outcomes by fostering competence, confidence, connections, character and caring. Simple action: Individually “catch students with character” from a list of admirable character traits you develop as a group and keep posted over your shoulder in your virtual program. This will build confidence and caring as well as character.
- Mindfulness development increases the ability to focus on the present moment over past or future events. This can improve executive function skills and self-regulation. Simple action: Build age-appropriate mindfulness techniques into your daily program routine.
- Trauma-informed practice seeks to minimize the effects of childhood trauma by offering safety, trustworthiness and transparency; peer support; collaboration; empowerment; and respect for diversity. Simple action: Connect individually as often as possible with students you believe may be experiencing trauma. Your small, heartfelt gestures can have immeasurable value when you think of yourself as an anchor in the child’s life.
- Self-awareness. Simple action: Ask questions that promote introspection, like “How did you feel in a situation?”
- Self-management. Simple action: Ask questions that promote reflection, like “Do you wish you had done anything differently in that situation?”
- Social awareness. Simple action: Ask questions that promote compassion, like “How do you think your friend felt in that situation?”
- Responsible decision making. Simple action: Ask questions that promote planning, like “How will you react the next time you’re in a situation?”
- Relationship skills. Simple action: Ask questions that promote collaboration, like “How might you work with others the next time you’re in a situation?”
- Pay it forward. Doing for others builds self-worth.
- Express yourself. The skill of accessing and talking about feelings gives you power over them.
- Hang out. There’s simple beauty and value in social time. That looks different right now, but you can make it a priority for students to have a safe, relaxed space with their peers.
- Imagine. Talk about the future in happy, sunny terms.
- Take care. As tempting as it is to “let go” with so much time spent at home, model and encourage good sleep, eating and exercise habits.
- Lean into the fall. “Failures” can be reframed as new opportunities to learn and grow.
- Wear your thinking cap. Create micro-opportunities for students to exercise and show off their critical thinking.
- Call it half full. A positive spin can be put on many things, even a quarantine. Let students know that today’s experts believe they’ll grow up to be stronger, more resilient, and more empathetic adults for what they are currently experiencing in their young lives.
Bring a team with you! Check out Y4Y’s tool for assigning roles and responsibilities around social and emotional learning.