#AskATeacher - Life Skills

You asked, we listened. Through text and video, National Teachers of the Year respond to your questions and concerns about children's social and emotional development.

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Social Skills

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    Find answers to questions about children’s relationships with peers, teachers, and family members.

  • Please share advice we can use to effectively communicate to our kids that we're learning/growing/adjusting TOGETHER. We'll get better as we go. What words can help us lead with authority & humility, leading to willing kids? -- Christie, Kansas City, MO children in 2nd and 7th grades

  • I am concerned about how a hybrid method will work for the kids who remain in virtual learning, especially in a school where most of the students are in-person. What advice do you have so the virtual kids are not left out? -- Kathy, Falls Church, VA, children in 6th and 7th grades

  • My daughter is a new 6th grader. She seems to be doing okay with distance learning, but we're concerned about the transition back to in-person instruction. How can we make this transition easy and exciting, and help her be less anxious or fearful about a new school? -- Sharon, Loxahatchee, FL, children in 5th and 6th grades

  • With some of her class doing remote while others are in person, how do we support the social relationships, building friendships, and building community among the whole class? --Barbara, Lewiston, ME, child in 3rd grade

    • Leila Kubesch, the 2020 Ohio Teacher of the Year and finalist for National Teacher of the Year: Consider a team-building project. I enlisted my online group to propose a service learning project and did the same for my students who attend face-to-face. As the project develops, they are finding ways to collaborate and merge their efforts. We created a Google document for the entire team; creating communication channels helped them engage in meaningful dialogue, share ideas and collaboratively plan the project.
      A parent recently contacted me to offer a project idea for my students. Teachers love ideas and parental partnership! Social activities could include a book club, a project-based program, a service learning opportunity, or even a new activity like online yoga. The good news: you won’t have to keep generating ideas–youth will soon take over when they become friends and get fed up with adult ideas that don’t resonate with them!

  • What are some ways we can continue to assure our students have opportunities to collaborate in these hybrid learning environments? -- Michael, Empire, AL, child in 8th grade

Confidence and Independence

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    Find answers to questions about building children’s independence and confidence.

  • What are some approaches to help children gain more independence or overcome fears during this time? I feel like I am being mean when I say "figure it out/do it yourself" but I am trying not to coddle them. -- Maria, Burlingame, CA, children in 2nd and 4th grades

  • Can you provide any suggestions on more one-on-one teacher/student interaction to help the student gain confidence in the virtual world? In the virtual classroom the teacher can't really see the real struggles going on with the child. How can we help? -- Rose, Raleigh, NC, children in 3rd and 5th grades

  • What if my child is shy and afraid to ask questions with online learning? How do I make sure she doesn’t fall behind? -- Patty, San Jose, CA, child in 4th grade

    • Leila Kubesch, the 2020 Ohio Teacher of the Year and finalist for National Teacher of the Year: There are many ways to address this:
      – Propose to your child to write down their questions and post on the online chat.
      – E-mail questions to the teacher in advance of class to allow them to respond to these questions as part of the lesson.
      – Let the teacher know that your child has questions and is shy–that way your child is not inadvertently called out while answering the question(s).
      – Playing a teacher and student skit at home can help alleviate anxiety about speaking up. Include the child’s questions in the skit to help the child remember what they are. With practice, the child will feel at ease to ask questions and self-advocate.
      – I taught my students breathing techniques and showed them yoga poses to use before meetings where they may feel uneasy in the virtual presence of their peers. They found these very effective.

  • What is the correct amount of active oversight during the virtual school day? I want to balance the need to ensure focus/involvement with virtual lessons while also promoting personal responsibility/independence. -- Scott, McLean, VA, child in 1st grade

  • What are some good habits and routines that can help my children not just survive but thrive and become self-directed, curious learners? Currently they retreat to Minecraft and Roblox every chance they get. -- Paul, Mill Valley, CA, children in 4th and 7th grades

  • How can I help my child build confidence so he can learn and not fear making mistakes? -- Sam, Minneapolis, MN, children in 2nd and 5th grades

Navigating Challenges

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    Find answers to questions about addressing potential challenges.

  • Are there any signs which would indicate a potential social or emotional challenge that I should be watchful of during distance learning? -- Eric, Santa Clara, CA, children in 2nd and 3rd grades

  • Distance learning has helped me realize how hard my child is on themselves. How do I redirect the negativity? -- Lindsay, Bellevue, NE, child in 6th grade

  • How can we help our children build resilience and ward off trauma during these challenging times? -- Maren, Portland, OR, children in 2nd and 4th grades

  • Online learning is stressful. How do we minimize our children's anxiety about an online environment that does not seem to be designed especially intuitively? -- Cami, Colorado Springs, CO, child in 7th grade

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