Turn Over a New Leaf This Spring!
Spring is the perfect time to focus on social skills, organizational skills, and stress management.
By Cathy Neushul
Springtime is a season of growth, change, and renewal. The smells in the air and the brilliant sunshine make it a favorite time of year for everyone. However, it also a time when children of all ages may see changes occurring. Perhaps they no longer feel close to the best friend they have had for years. Or, maybe their teacher has started to bore them to tears. Even the playground they used to love roaming around seems confining. It’s natural that as the end of the year approaches, learners may start to see things differently. As a teacher, you can make this season a time to forget about the pressures of testing and academics, and start focusing on the social issues that can make or break a child’s school experience.
It’s All About Friendship
While I might remember a few things here and there about my elementary school education, most of the memories I have are of social relationships, and of course, recess. One of my fondest memories involves playing flag football in the park with my classmates. Your pupils likely have the same priorities. Recess and social interaction is much more important to them than most anything else at school. And as adults, we know that what happens on the playground doesn’t stay on the playground.
For this reason, talking about friendships is a good idea:
- Have your pupils bring in their favorite stories about friendship and share them.
- Put out a box where they can put slips of paper where they have anonymously written out their problems and concerns. Then, you can take a slip a day, and discuss the issue as a class. The key is to let your pupils come up with solutions.
- Have each member of your class write a fictional story about friends who have some sort of difficulty. By focusing on a particular issue in this manner, learners can more objectively evaluate a problem and come up with a solution. It’s also a great way to foster critical-thinking skills.
Stress Management is Crucial
We might not always remember, but school can be stressful for children. Just like adults, learners need to develop stress-management skills.
- One of the best ways to handle stress is to take deep relaxation breaths. Have your class practice breathing in and out slowly with their eyes closed. You can even play calming music while you help them to relax. Even if you are met with some giggles, or flack at the beginning, the kids will eventually love these quiet moments.
- If you would like to take it one step farther, the class can try some yoga. There are some simple, easy yoga poses they can try.
While there are ways to restore calm, there are also techniques to ensure that learners don’t get stressed in the first place. One of these is through focusing on preparation and organizational skills. If you’ve ever spent half an hour looking for your keys, you know the damage disorganization can cause. Up to this point in the year, you may have been helping your class organize their notes, thoughts, and papers. But now is the perfect time to work with your pupils on ways they can prepare and organize their assignments and homework. At this point, they thoroughly understand the class schedule and your academic expectations. This means they have the ability to learn the new skill of getting themselves organized. If they develop organization and preparation skills and begin to practice them now, they will likely carry over into their next school years, making them a whole lot smoother and easier. You could even prepare a lesson showing learners how to organize e-mails into folders, star important information, or create an online planner.
Adapt some of the lessons below in order to create new beginnings both inside and outside of the classroom.
Springtime Related Lessons:
Explore friendship in your classroom. Learners discuss the book Enemy Pie by Derek Munson and discuss the different types of friendship that are possible. This is a great way to lead a discussion on being open to new friendships.
Discuss how athletes use yoga to focus and enhance their training. This is a wonderful way to expose your class to yoga. They can explore various techniques to relieve stress and focus the mind.
After a unit on friendship, have your class create a newsletter or magazine. This is a good way to share what they have learned. They can even use these articles as a way to share with other classes, and maybe the entire school.
Learners discuss stress and its positive and negative aspects. The teacher uses a rubber band to illustrate this concept. Then, learners discuss stress-management tools.