How to Help Your Kids Feel Safe in an Uncertain Time
One thing is certain: our children rely on us to provide them with a sense of safety and security, especially during scary times. As if you needed any more pressure, right? That's okay, we can do this together.
Here‘s how: routines, rituals, and celebrations. Who has time for THAT? you say. You do, because I've got your back. Read on.
Create Simple Daily Routines
Routines are so comforting to children. They create the structure children crave, and their predictability helps us all feel anchored and secure. All it takes is a couple simple daily habits to create moments of connection with your little ones. Some ideas:
Morning calendar time. Hang up a calendar, ideally a beautiful one that the children will want to touch and admire. Spend a few minutes every morning moving the today marker to the new day, and recognizing all the details about where you are: Today is Tuesday. It is the fourth day of the month of August. The year is 2020. What is the weather like today? Let's go see!
There's a reason classrooms are filled with calendary materials. We derive a deep sense of comfort in knowing where we are now. I mean, have you seen the sheer amount of adults who bullet journal? There's something to to this, my friends. Every morning, go to the calendar with your kids, look to the day or week ahead and discuss any exciting holidays or small adventures you have planned, and add them to your calendar. Easy peasy, yet powerful. Find your perfect wall calendar here.
Other morning routines that help children feel secure and foster community:
Attendance boards. Oh do I love me an attendance board--as children arrive to the classroom, they simply add their name to the board on the wall. This small routine says: we are so glad you're here, you belong to this community, and we miss you when you're absent. You can use a printed board for your attendance board, or decorate rocks with children's names, or anything! Get creative with it. It's the habit that matters. Check out my super cute attendance board here.
Morning jobs. So, as adults we hear the word "jobs" and groan, but children love having jobs! Capitalize on this while you can, friends. Identify ways the children can care for their learning environment, and create teams so the children can do the work together, or maybe now that we're living in this new normal just have them do the work solo for a bit. Either way--the jobs can be simple things: watering the plants, dust the shelves, organize the colored pencils, fill the printer paper. I have a really sweet and simple morning jobs chart here.
When we involve children in the care of their environment, we foster their sense of ownership and community. And we offload a bit of the grudge work which, hey, who doesn't want in on that?
Create Weekly Rituals
The rituals of our childhood become the treasured memories of our adulthood. It's true.
Simple, celebratory rituals. Weekly calendars are my favorite for organizing this. Fill your calendar with your weekly rituals, whatever they may be: Special treats on Fridays, Wild Wednesday dance parties, Time Out Tuesdays where you take an hour to do something non-academic. The possibilities are endless. Remember show-and-tell from your own childhood? This is the kind of thing we're going for--fun, simple, child-centered, low-prep for us overworked adults.
Even if--no, especially if your children are e-learning, work to create some space for the children to come together throughout the week.
Celebrate the Small Stuff
Children are pros as delighting in the simple things. Have you ever tried to take a quick walk with a toddler? Not a chance, right? Bring more simple delights into your learning space to bolster everyone's sense of security and wonder.
Celebrate birthdays. Sweet, simple, child-focused birthday celebrations not only bring joy, but they work to foster a sense of community and connection, which in turn nurtures their sense of security. You don't need store-bought decorations or huge displays to make a birthday special. Hang up a classroom birthday chart. Decorate paper bunting with the children, make birthday crowns, present a birthday poster to the child of honor, and spend a few minutes singing and celebrating the day together. Check out my rad birthday printables here, you're going to love them.
Celebrate student achievements. Help the children set goals, and celebrate when they reach them. No victory is too small. Have fun with this--put a small bell in the classroom for children to ring when they're proud of an achievement, or create a ritual of doing a silent happy dance. The goofier the better, in my opinion. Whatever works for your group, create a habit of celebrating small victories. Need help getting your ish together? I have planner printables.
This is basically my own personal life motto. Life is short and uncertain, and nothing is too small to celebrate. Celebrations can be big and loud, or simple and quiet. They can be with friends, or my personal favorite--enjoyed alone hiding in the laundry room with a pastry and a hot coffee while the kids bang on the locked door. You do you, friends. Whatever you do, a habit of celebrating the little things will create a joyful environment for your, and the children around you, and what feels safer than that?