Connecting Social-Emotional Learning,
the Pandemic,
and Great Children’s Books

Let’s Talk About Supporting the Emotional and Developmental Needs of Our Wonderful Kiddos

          As adults, our own lives and routines have been turned upside down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, our children’s worlds are being formed during this massive global change. What little routines many young children may have been able to establish in their lives pre-pandemic are different now. Change is a part of life, but we need to consider how to actively support the needs of our children in the midst of so much social change and upheaval. Together, let’s take a look at the importance of Social-Emotional Learning for children (especially as their brains rapidly develop in the midst of a global pandemic), the mental wellness of children, and some great children’s books to help support them.

Brief overview of Social-Emotional Learning (SEL)

          What is SEL? SEL helps children establish experiences that promote safety in their bodies, environments, and relationships. It teaches compassionate thinking and behavior and also improves academic success. SEL imparts the skills necessary for growing into well rounded and kind individuals. The 5 components of Social-Emotional Learning are self awareness, self management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.

See our article, What Is “Social-Emotional Learning"?, for a more in-depth examination of SEL.

Why SEL is important for kids

          Parents publication explains that Social-Emotional Learning helps children to develop:

  • Coping skills to deal with life’s challenges
  • Important social skills like kindness and empathy
  • The ability to reduce levels of anxiety and depression
  • A greater understanding of themselves and others
  • The ability to make informed decisions
  • An improved confidence and overall attitude

          These are all important skills that help children’s development immensely - and never more so than during the social upheaval, uncertainty, stress, anxiety, and changes brought about by the pandemic. 

 

What are some of the ways that the pandemic is affecting children?

  • Children are falling behind in their reading skills across the board, especially in areas of reading comprehension. Reading comprehension is a critical part of healthy childhood development. 
  • Trauma can negatively affect children’s ability to focus, process information, and form healthy relationships. The pandemic is a collective cultural trauma that many children are experiencing during their formative years. As of August of 2021, more than 43,000 children had one parent who had died due to COVID-19. Of those 43,000 children, Black children were impacted at disproportionately high levels.
  • Many children are now receiving inadequate health care due to an overwhelmed healthcare system, pandemic precautions, and financial difficulties that are being felt across the nation. When children are struggling with basic health issues, they are less prepared to reach their full learning potential.

 

See our article, The Pandemic Has Changed Children’s Learning Culture, for more details on this.

Ways to support your child’s mental health

          As we all learn to change, adapt, and navigate new situations, you can model the behaviors that you want your children to use. Let your children see you talking through things that are causing you anxiety or stress. Let them see you trying different things to help manage new problems. Talk to your kids: Keep those lines of communication open and honest. Make sure that you’re setting clear boundaries for children and that you’re helping them establish healthy routines (like bedtime routines or time spent outdoors during the day).

          Most of all: Listen. Ensure that your child knows that they have a safe space in which to talk to you about anything that is bothering them. Provide them with positive feedback and encouragement and let them know that you love them unconditionally. When a person feels accepted and loved by those in their life, they are more likely to have a healthier sense of wellbeing. Feeling loved and accepted helps children to routinely experience joy in their activities and lifestyle, as well as allowing them to more healthily adapt to change, understand and value their own worth, and experience high rates of satisfaction with their overall life and choices.

 

See our related articles for more details on wellness and children:

How Storypod helps to strengthen your child's Social-Emotional Learning

          Storypod believes that social-emotional skills act as a strong foundation for children’s learning, growth, and health. Our Pathway to Learning uses SEL as its foundation. We incorporate themes of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making throughout our fun and educational Audio Experiences and content.

          On our Pathway to Learning, the early stages build a foundation of strong SEL skills. The music, songs, dances, and stories in our early stage Crafties focus on introducing interaction, content engagement, emotional learning, and emotional regulation. As your child moves along the Pathway to Learning, our Audio Experiences help them learn, problem solve, establish values & empathy, explore, focus their attention, and build real-world connections. As your children learn and grow, so does the content presented to them in their Crafties, read-along audiobooks, and interactive trivia cards. From conflict resolution, critical thinking, cognitive processing, and logic & reasoning all the way to identity formation: Storypod helps you provide your children with a strong foundation in Social-Emotional Learning.

Great children’s books that focus on SEL

 

See our related articles for more details on children’s books:

 

Conclusion

          Social-Emotional Learning helps children to better cope with the changing world around them. As our culture experiences rapid and long-lasting changes due to the pandemic - from changes in the classroom to children’s fears of getting sick to losing loved ones - empowering them with the strong foundation that they need is one of the most important things we can do to support their mental health. We are all human and we all need support. Taking care of yourself is not only an important step for adults, but it also models important behaviors to children. Making time to bond, read, talk, and listen to one another is now more important than ever. Here at Storypod, we want to provide you with some of the same healthy support, information, and choices that you work so hard to provide to your family. Thank you for letting us go on this journey with you and yours.

References

  • From Publishers Weekly: Social and Emotional Learning Booklist
  • From School Library Journal: SEL: More Important Than Ever
  • SEL Titles to Add to Your Young Reader Library (From Medium)
  • From Mental Health America: Helping At Home: Tips For Parents
  • From Verywell Family: How to Support Your Child's Mental Health
  • What Is Social-Emotional Learning? (From Committee for Children)
  • 17 Fun Learning Activities for Kids (From Parents)
  • Parents publication discusses Social-Emotional Learning
  • It’s ‘Alarming’: Children Are Severely Behind in Reading  (from The New York Times)
  • Back to School amidst the New Normal: Ongoing Effects of the Coronavirus Pandemic on Children’s Health and Well-Being (From Kaiser Family Foundation)

          Wondering what stage your child is in? We provide caregivers with an easy, customized, online quiz that identifies each child’s unique needs, strengths, and areas for improvement! This allows us to work with caregivers to place each child at their best starting point on our screen-free pathway to learning.

Storypod’s online quiz takes into account:

  • Age
  • Grade-level
  • Developmental milestones
  • Interests
  • Recommendations from the CDC
  • Common Core Curriculum