As we end the 2020 – 2021 school year, we close the door on a year of uncertainty and begin anew with a summer full of opportunity and hope for everyone.
This summer season, let’s take advantage of this opportunity to find a healthy balance between academics and other extracurricular activities. After the exhausting year that students, educators and parents have been through, we really need it.
Here at Peekapak, we’ve included a few suggestions to help you easily incorporate wellness activities into your summer fun. Whether you are a teacher leading summer school or if you’re a parent wanting to plant seeds of SEL to encourage your kids.
1. Outside Reading Circles
Great weather and fresh air can help create new learning environments. When it’s nice outside, don’t hesitate to go outside and read a book from your favorite reading list (or, from Peekapak library 😉). Kids can follow along independently or with a friend using their very own copy of the book. At the end , take some time to have them reflect on their reading experience as well, and don’t forget to open the floor for any sharing of thoughts and/or feelings.
To incorporate more literacy skills, you can ask the children to read certain parts of the story aloud.
One last thing, the best way to teach SEL is to be an SEL role model. If you have a book you’d like to read and share your experiences with, go ahead and do it! You want to model what quiet reading looks like and how mindfulness can “bring you back to calm” as well.
2. SEL Summer Contests
Promote and highlight healthy SEL skills by implementing contests. You may wish to choose some of the following suggestions or come up with your own! Have the kids submit their responses and choose a winner at random. And if you’d like, read their responses out loud to share best practices with the rest of the group!
How do you practice self-regulation?
Children can share their practices including reading Peekapak stories with parents and guardians, meditating, having open conversations around feelings, breathing exercises etc. Make a full list for everyone to contribute and share.
Highlight acts of appreciation and recognition and have kids nominate each other for showing gratitude.
Acts of kindness
Promote good deeds and acts of kindness. Pinpoint ways in which we can show kindness. Talk about the importance of being considerate, caring, and respectful of others and acting in ways that will benefit others without expecting anything in return!
3. Summer Journals
Journaling is a great way to bundle writing and reading comprehension skills, as well as reflection opportunities (and reduce screen time!).
Ask the kids to recount their past experiences and relate them to SEL competencies. This exercise will help students identify times that they’ve demonstrated these competencies and how it worked in their favour. It is important to have well-thought-out questions to help facilitate this self-reflection. For example:
“When was a time you worked well with another person? What was the outcome? How did it make you feel? How do you think it made others feel?”
“Now think about a time when it was hard to work with another person. What was the outcome? How did it make you feel? How do you think it made the other person feel?”
Encourage the kids to share responses in a group if they feel comfortable, as this can help build empathy and facilitate a more connected learning environment as they listen to each other’s feelings.
You can enhance SEL discussions by choosing reflection topics around Peekapak’s 10 SEL Topics, including themes like teamwork, perseverance, and empathy. Working on these skills over the summer will help ease back into the new year and help them rebuild their friendships at school.
We hope you found these tips helpful and fun! But whether you use them or not, the main message is that kids need support all year-round, not just during the school year. Especially now, let’s try to use the good vibes and the summer to revitalize and support our children after a long, hard year.
Peekapak is an award-winning, literacy-based social-emotional learning (SEL) platform of stories, evidence-based lessons, family activities, and interactive learning games. Peekapak helps overcome barriers to teaching SEL by making learning these skills more accessible, engaging, and measurable for school districts, educators, parents, and students. With its flexible and accessible design that can be easily modified, teachers can effortlessly integrate Peekapak’s ready-to-teach lessons into their planned curriculum. Behind-the-scenes, teachers, and administrators receive real-time reports showing a student’s progress and emotional state. This allows educators to be proactive in helping curve future mental health issues and promote positive well-being in the classroom.