Resources for Creating Safe and Supportive Learning Environments
Now, more than ever, social and emotional health for both children and adults is at the forefront. Social-emotional learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions (CASEL).
The last several months have been emotionally and physically taxing on children, parents, and school staff alike. In order to move forward and navigate the next normal, family and school communities must work together to address challenges, support social-emotional health and build resilient environments.
Create safe and supportive learning environments at home and at school that offer opportunities for self-exploration, reflection and connection.
Providing children with an emotionally safe and supportive environment encourages children to try new things, make mistakes, learn and grow as and allows them to explore their emotions without fear of judgment or punishment. Creating a safe and supportive learning environment also allows children to open up to the possibilities of growth both at home and at school and begin to see beyond their own experiences and become more socially aware of those around them.
- Create spaces that offer opportunities for self-exploration and collaboration. How spaces are designed and set up can influence what opportunities are available to children. Spaces that promote collaboration and conversation may be set up in a circle or with materials to collaborate (g. poster boards, group games, etc.), while spaces that promote self-reflection may be set up with more privacy or comforting materials (e.g. sensory activities, journaling and mindfulness tools, etc.).
- Cultivate an environment where children feel safe in communicating feelings, thoughts and emotions with their peers and trusted adults. Create space to openly discuss questions or concerns around current events and create opportunities for emotional check-in on a regular basis.
Resources for All
- What Makes a Safe and Supportive Learning Environment? (Action for Healthy Kids)
- Creative Spaces to Inspire (Action for Healthy Kids)
Resources for Families
- Talking through Feelings: Family Conversation Starters (Action for Healthy Kids)
- Building Positive Conditions for Learning at Home: Strategies and Resources for Families and Caregivers (American Institute for Research)
Resources for Educators and School Staff
- Guide to Equitable Learning Environments (Belle Framework)
- Creating a Safe and Respectful Environment Self-Study Resources (National Center for Safe and Supportive Learning Environments)
- Facilitating Class Discussions and Navigating Difficult Conversations (AU Center for Teaching, Research and Learning)
Find resources for developing safe and supportive learning environments and promoting social-emotional learning at the links below.
Stay informed, active and healthy with more resources and activities by visiting Back to School: Safe & Healthy in an Uncharted Landscape.