Returning to school in fall 2021, students will bring difficult emotions related to pandemic life. The academic year may be most productive if feelings are addressed from the start. With that in mind, the attached PDF worksheet could help with school re-entry. It has each student draw a memory, then discuss it with a partner.
After students talk in pairs, the teacher can lead a class discussion. Two objectives:
- Acknowledge that we had positive moments and difficult times. Be specific; mention students’ experiences (if appropriate) and your own. Take the opportunity to mention any fun skills/hobbies that you personally acquired during time away from school, as this can lighten the mood and set a positive example. The info will also help introduce you to the class.
- Make students aware of helpful resources at school and elsewhere. “It’s natural to feel worried or scared after some of our pandemic experiences. Who are some people to talk with when we feel this way?” Generate a list of trusted resources such as an aunt, a pastor or rabbi, or the school psychologist. Ensure that students know how to access school resources.
To close, you could brainstorm a list of independent coping strategies: “Sometimes you need to wait to talk with someone. Waiting isn’t easy! What can you do meanwhile to feel less upset?” Some ideas: take deep breaths, write in a diary, help another person, practice a musical instrument, read a book, and sing an upbeat song. Maybe send students off with a happy tune. ?
For further guidance Sudden Homeschool recommends the journal article “Empowering Children Through School Re-Entry Activities After the COVID-19 Pandemic” at ContinuityInEducation.org.