The idea of what a classroom looks like has changed for everyone over the past year and a half. Hybrid classes? Remote classes? In school classes? It changes so often; it’s hard to keep up. Routines, schedules, and expectations are constantly shifting. That goes for students as well as teachers. This can be especially difficult when teaching young children. Hopefully we will be returning to the classroom again. Some schools already have started going back. Many may be wondering how to make the transition as smooth as possible. Here are some tips!
Make Safety Protocols Fun!
Using fun age-appropriate language to support mask wearing, hand washing, and social distancing is a great way to keep your students interested and safe. Some teachers have been saying, “Don’t forget to put your superhero mask on!”. One way to have little kids apply hand sanitizer correctly is by singing “Front, Back, In Between In Between!” in the tune of “head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes”. Keeping 6 feet between young students is going to be hard. Especially when they don’t know how much 6 feet looks like! Try using a rope with knots every 6 feet for when your class needs to walk down the hall.
It’s hard for young children to sit in one spot for hours a day. Flexible seating gives them the option to choose what kind of seat will work best for them. Small yoga balls, yoga mats, wiggle seats, child size rockers, and floor pillows at short desks are all great options and will make your classroom a more comfortable learning environment for your students.
Provide Individual Bins
Children need work utensils and toys but a big shared bin of toys isn’t an option right now. Give each student their own bins with their work stuff and toys such as water colors, coloring books, and legos! They’ll be able to play and socialize in a safe manner.
Create a Comfortable and Zen Learning Environment
There will be a range of emotions flooding in when kids start going back to school. Many will have severe anxiety and nervousness because they haven’t been in the classroom in so long. Start off the day as calming as possible. Keep your tone calm and try playing calming music or nature sounds. When it’s time to move around or work try playing lively music or meditation soundtracks.
Focus on Social Emotional Connections
This has been a really tough year and a half for everyone. Even really young children. Try your best to meet with each child and assess where they are emotionally. Are they excited about school or are they nervous and having a hard time focusing? Some teachers have tried creating a classroom mascot using a puppet. They’ll name the puppet and every morning the mascot will ask the students how they’re doing and try to get a read on the class’ emotional state. Also make sure that the students are getting to interact and socialize with each other even with social distancing. It’s important for young children’s development to know how to interact with their peers.
Teaching outside has always had many benefits, such as helping with anxiety. Now during this phase of life it’s got even more benefits. It gives students a chance to take off their masks and take in some fresh air!
Adjust Your Expectations
No matter how hard you try this year’s class is not going to be able to tackle the same curriculum activities and projects you’ve used in the past. Take a moment to breathe and realize that you will need to lower your expectations of what school will look like. Take each day in stride and work with what you have and try your hardest to make the best out of the situation.
- Creating Compassionate Classrooms: Overcoming Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES)
- A Mindful Pedagogy: Strategies for Creating Compassionate and Purposeful Learning Spaces
- Developing Students’ Mindfulness Practice to Support Engagement, Self-Regulation, and Achievement
- Strategies for Reaching At-Risk Students