Teaching Social-Emotional Skills Amid COVID-19

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—Stephanie Shafer for Education Week

It’s tempting to put students’ social, emotional, and mental well-being on the back burner as schools scramble to make up for lost learning and navigate the tough logistical and political challenges of safely opening school buildings. But ignoring social emotional learning could be a recipe for disaster.

The fact is: Children can’t process and retain new information if their brains are overwhelmed with anxiety.

That’s especially true now for students who are feeling deeply stressed by the coronavirus, the economic recession, and the racial unrest that is sweeping the country.

While adopting a comprehensive, evidence-based SEL curriculum is best, if a school doesn’t have one, that doesn’t mean it’s too late to introduce social emotional learning. There are ways to weave SEL into the school day without overhauling established plans and adopting new SEL curricula. While it’s hard to teach children

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