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Social-Emotional Learning During Distance Learning (Social Stories Included)

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Photo of Holly (Teach Starter)
Updated | 4 min read

During such unprecedented times, we often seek out regular routines or normalcy to find comfort. It’s important to sit back and think about how your students may be feeling during this global pandemic. Many may be missing their friends, others may have parents that are frontline workers, and therefore life has been a little different from what they are used to. Whether your district is all online learning, in person, or a mix of the two – the students will be looking towards their school life to get through this crazy time! That is why it is important to consider your students’ social-emotional learning during distance learning.

Social-Emotional Learning During Distance Learning

As teachers, we know that the teaching of social-emotional skills can help children during times of stress. So, incorporating social-emotional learning during your remote learning is incredibly important. In this blog, we outline some activities and digital resources that you can use both in class or remotely to help your students get through their new way of life.

(1) Teach Mindfulness

The positive benefits of teaching mindfulness to children have been proven across a number of studies. A five or ten-minute daily mindfulness practice every single day can help students reduce stress and anxiety, increase concentration and engagement, sleep better, improve social skills, and develop problem-solving and decision-making skills. Remote learning shouldn’t change this.

We have a huge collection of mindfulness activities for kids that you can send home to students, or use in the classroom.

Mindfulness coloring for kids

Printable mindfulness resources for kids:

Podcast for Kids

To make things even easier during distance learning – our very own podcast for kids includes three meditation episodes that are FREE to use. Add a link to these podcasts on your Google Classroom or whatever platform you are using for distance learning.

(2) Use Social Stories for Little Learners

While social stories have traditionally been a tool used for children with ASD, they can be helpful to explain different social scenarios for little learners. Social stories are written in the first person, with the child as one of the key characters. This makes it more relatable for the children. Here’s an example of one that we have transformed into a video. A simple social story that explains how to prevent germs from spreading.


Printable Social Stories for kids:

(4) Talk about Current Events In Child-Friendly Language

Talking about the current events that are taking place in kid-friendly language is important. The reality is that your students are listening to their parents talk about the global pandemic, or possibly watching the news, so breaking it down into language they will understand allows them to feel more in control of their own thoughts and feelings.

To help with this, we have a few episodes on our podcast for kids that cover a range of topics, including a short story by one of our favorite author’s Julia Cook!

(5) Use Visual Cues for New Concepts

Incorporating visual cues for new concepts such as social distancing alleviates any unknowns for your students. Discussing what your students can do, rather than what they can’t do is always going to make it feel more positive.

Classroom morning greetings are so important when it comes to your daily classroom routine. Not only do they deepen your relationship with each individual student, but they also help students learn those critical communication skills. Don’t let social distancing squash this powerful part of your routine. Use this set of Non-Contact Morning Greetings Posters to show your students the different non-contact greetings they can use to greet you and their friends each morning. They even work virtually!

Non-contact Morning Greetings classroom posters

With this upcoming school year being a bit tricky, we have created a set of Social Distancing in the Classroom Posters for you to use in your classroom to remind students about social distancing and to maintain their own ‘bubble’ in the classroom environment. Gorgeous images visually explain to younger students what each poster is explaining!

Social Distancing in the Classroom Posters

(6) Daily Feeling Check-In

Making it routine to invite children to talk about how they are feeling each day will give you a clear understanding of how they are doing emotionally. Set aside some time for students to create their own feeling sticks (like the ones in the photo below). You could invite them to use whatever they may have at home to create these sticks – let their creativity run wild! Then, during morning meetings – ask students to hold up how they are feeling today!

How to make feeling sticks for kids

Here are some other printable feelings resources that could also work well:

(7) Morning Meetings!

Morning Meetings are a great way to start each day in your classroom. Not only do they build a strong sense of community, but they also set your students up for a successful day, both socially as well as academically.

Our new Editable Morning Meeting Slides are the perfect template for you to use during your meeting to present important information to your students in the class, or virtually!


(7) Remember to Look After You!

When all is said and done – all of this is new for you as well! Take some time to reflect on how you are coping and make sure you factor in mindful moments. Schedule in time to de-stress, have a chat with colleagues, and make sure you are taking care of your physical wellbeing!

If you are looking for more Back to School Resource check out our huge collection!

Banner Image: / epixproductions


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