SEL Icebreakers to Alleviate Back-to-School Anxiety

Break the ice Message. Recycled paper note pinned on cork board. Concept Image

Back-to-School season can be an exciting and anxious time for students. Social and emotional learning (SEL) can help students overcome both the normal fears of school — meeting new people — and the additional stressors caused by COVID-19.

Educators can help alleviate back-to-school anxiety and the extra stressors students are experiencing after a year or more of isolation under stay-at-home orders by focusing on rebuilding relationships. Here are 3 SEL tips to help students start their school year off strong.  

  1. Start Early: Start in the Summertime

Providing spaces where students can reconnect with peers and develop friendships can help kids boost their confidence and academic success. Some teachers are already acclimating their students to returning to in-person classes by starting summer programs that focus not just on refreshing academic knowledge but building friendships.

  • Engage Students on Social Media

Meeting student where they are is essential. During the pandemic, many students used social media to stay connected with peers and manage mental health. Using social media in lesson plans — Twitter polls, Facebook message boards, and more — can boost collaboration and a sense of connectedness.

  • Promote shared spaces

Many schools are adding makerspaces for the dual benefits of teaching STEM and SEL skills. Educators can combine social-emotional tools into lessons and activities, including art projects with 3D printers. Schools that don’t have a makerspace can consider resources and spaces they already have, including their library, to promote collaborative workspaces. Beyond curating books, or e-books, librarians can foster inclusivity and connect students to valuable support resources. Some school librarians are even building makerspaces within their libraries and offering biweekly choice boards that include featured books and related activities.

Share your tips! How are you making SEL a priority?

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