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Educators putting emphasis on social-emotional skills as students navigate virtual learning

Published: Feb. 1, 2021 at 5:35 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - At the Jane Boyd Community House, young learners are experiencing daily lessons in managing their emotions. It’s part of an everyday social-emotional learning curriculum in the after-school program.

“We do everything from developing some of those relationship skills to sometimes planning activities that are crafts that touch on their more emotional component,” Megan Isenberg, the director, said.

Isenberg said they started providing academic support when schools closed, but soon realized the other challenges that came with learning in a virtual environment.

“Social-emotional learning, it’s been a challenge because kids through the pandemic are far more isolated from their friends, and from their peers,” Isenberg said.

Isenberg said the effects of isolation are huge, something parents like Angela McKinney and Ron Perdomo saw in their daughter, Imani, as well.

“She missed her friends, so just being at home so long,” McKinney said. “There’s a lot more aggravation just because she’s not around children her age.”

The second-grader is back in person at Johnson STEAM Academy, but the parents had to adjust to make sure she was getting the emotional help when she wasn’t.

“We just spent time with her reading books,” McKinney said.

“We were just trying to be there for her and letting her know that she is not in it by herself,” Perdomo said.

Jane Boyd is adding social-emotional lessons every day instead of a few times a week, as well as make time strictly for safe social or playtime. The Cedar Rapids Community School District has also built it into its curriculum.

At home, Isenberg said there are things parents can do, too.

“Give your kids that time to fully engage at the end of each day. Pay attention to them, and ask those questions,” Isenberg said.

Isenberg added, most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for mental health help and resources.

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