7 Ways to Provide SEL Support to Students and Families Learning Remotely

Remote learning has shifted the responsibility of teaching to parents and caregivers. These adults are helping children learn core skills like reading, writing, science, and math. But they need to be teaching social and emotional learning (SEL), too, especially during remote learning. SEL will help students:

  • stay focused and engaged in learning
  • work through emotions like stress, fear, anxiety, and trauma
  • remain connected with educators and peers.

As schools prepare for the probability of some remote learning this fall, it is important to provide parents and caregivers with resources for supporting the social-emotional health of their children. Building SEL into their new normal will also help parents and caregivers work through many of the challenges presented by remote learning.

Here are seven ways you can encourage parents and caregivers to weave SEL support into remote learning.

  1. Manage expectations. Remote learning isn’t the same as traditional classroom instruction. Encourage families to set realistic expectations around student learning. This will help reduce stress and will give them a reasonable goal to work toward. A goal of two to three hours of quality remote learning time a day is a good place to start.
  2. Establish a routine. Students do best when they follow a routine. Their behavior improves, and they are more likely to stay on-task. Share a sample routine with parents and let them know that it is ok to adjust this to fit their personal situations.
  3. Make time for breaks and fun. Students can only concentrate for so long before their attention and retention wanes. Younger students need more breaks, (roughly one break for every 20 minutes spent learning). Middle and high school students can usually concentrate for longer periods, only needing a break between each subject. Remind parents to build in brain breaks. These can be as simple as burning off some energy with a few minutes of exercise or eating a healthy snack. 
  4. Learn each student’s education plan and online learning tools. Try to meet one-on-one with parents and caregivers for each of your students to discuss your expectations for their child and walk through your class’s remote learning tools. (Hint: Common Sense Media has compiled helpful tips for families as they get started using the popular Zoom and Google Classroom platforms. Share these or similar tutorials with families.)
  5. Find ways to de-stress. In these uncertain times, effective stress management is critical for improving our quality of life, and it can lead to improved health, an increased sense of control, enhanced self-esteem, and decreased likelihood of depression. Share resources with families on how they and their children can de-stress. For example, our blog, SEL for Educators: 10 Activities to De-Stress, can be adapted for parent and caregiver use. 
  6. Manage everyone’s social-emotional well-being. Besides managing stress, it is important to keep a close eye on the full social-emotional health of students and their families. Aperture Education has developed a resource database to support social-emotional learning at home. Share these tools with parents and caregivers and help them learn how to build these important skills in their children.
  7. Reach out with concerns. Communication is essential during this disruptive period. Strong relationships can make all the difference in staying connected and ensuring students are continuing to learn. Invite parents to reach out to you or other appropriate school staff if they are experiencing difficulties with remote learning, suffering from hardship, or need access to additional resources. 

Between juggling work, parenting responsibilities, and getting through their normal daily routines, many parents and caregivers struggle with remote learning. Helping families learn about and teach SEL to children will not only make remote learning easier, but it will also improve outcomes.

Get more resources for supporting families during remote learning with our toolkit to support SEL at home.

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