The Welcome Back to School season has a new meaning and significance this year. In some instances, educators and students will be returning to school after over a year of social distancing. They faced unpredictable school schedules and new learning environments.
Social and emotional learning has received a lot of attention recently. This school year can be the opportunity to make relationship and community-building a priority. It’s also a chance to refocus energies on the things that matter most, such as self-care.
Here are some tools educators, students, parents, and caregivers can use to help launch a successful school year and support each other.
Welcoming students and colleagues back to school will very emotional this year. To help, SHP designed a Welcome Back kit based on our award-winning Start With Hello program to help you create fun ways for your students to connect.
Each activity highlights the grade-level appropriateness, amount of time to complete the activity, and the related core CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning) competencies. Most of the activities also include a “Trusted Adult Tip” suggesting how you can use the activity to build rapport with students, as well as a “Virtual Option” for those teaching remotely. For more activity ideas, register for Start With Hello Week and download the Planning Guide.
Say Something Elementary
We’ve expanded our programs this year to include Say Something Elementary, which is intended for students in grades 4 and 5 and is based on the existing middle and high school model.
Students learn age-appropriate warning signs and threats of someone who may be at-risk of hurting themselves or others and how to “say something” to a Trusted Adult before a tragedy can occur. Say Something Elementary also includes interactive activities and lessons to further engage students.
For Students and SAVE Promise Clubs
Reach Out and Stay Connected
Going back to school this year will look different for most students and have some unique challenges. But you can help make it a little easier on yourself and your friends! Check out some creative ways to connect in this Student Activity Guide.
Watch for Warning Signs
The stress and changes of this new school year can be especially hard for some youth, who may need extra help to get through this difficult time. It’s crucial to be on the lookout for warning signs of potential violence, suicide, or self-harm. Use this checklist and “say something” to a trusted adult when you see cause for concern.
For Parents and Caregivers
Where and how kids return to school may look different across the country. For some students, the anxiety and fear that they are already feeling will likely be heightened. Here are some ways you can help:
Keep kids connected
Being socially distanced doesn’t mean that kids can’t stay connected with one another. Check out our free webinar or download the Activity Guide for age-appropriate ideas that take as little as 30 minutes.
Be a trusted adult
Students of all ages may be facing mixed emotions and uncertainty on their return to school and need a confidant that they can talk to. Feelings related to traumas students may have experienced can have a profound impact on students returning to school. “Trusted adults” are the parents, guardians, educators, and caretakers who are present and actively involved in kids’ lives and help to:
- Reassure that they are there for the kids in their life, as the support they can lean on.
- Recharge by intentionally making time to relax and have fun.
- Reconnect by bringing other trusted adults and students together using safe physical distancing protocols for small amounts of face-to-face time, especially when students are solely doing remote learning.
- Review the warning signs of youth in crisis who may be at risk of harming themselves and others.
- Remind kids that they can “say something” to them when they see concerning social posts or notice warning signs of potential violence or self-harm.
Learn more by reading our “Cornerstone C’s Checklist” for Trusted Adults
For Everyone: Watch for Signs of Suicide
Some students may feel like things will never get better and may experience depression and feelings of hopelessness. It is critical that they understand what they are feeling is temporary. When you see any of these warning signs of suicide, get help.
- Talking about wanting to die, to be dead or unalive
- Talking about suicide or cutting or burning themselves
- Withdrawing from everyone and everything
National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text 741741
Teen Line: 800-TLC-TEEN (852-8336) or text TEEN to 839863
Disaster Distress Helpline: 800-985-5990, which provides 24/7, 365-day-a-year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters, and COVID-19.