Understanding how we can continue to foster social intelligence through digital tools and as we transition back into a new normal.
Social intelligence and emotional intelligence are critical for our child’s ability to thrive and optimise any other potential. While similar, both barometers are distinct. While we cannot fully control how we feel, we can choose how we respond to a situation.
But to briefly sum it up, our emotional intelligence is expressed through our actions. Our social intelligence measures the expression of our emotional intelligence. Our emotional reaction to an event or someone may be instinctive, but our social intelligence makes the difference between our reaction or response.
Social and emotional learning is the heartbeat of a learning experience in school. However, the pandemic has completely snatched that away from our children. They miss being with their peers and their teachers. The feeling of being together in the same room and being connected.
We agree that all the virtual class and Zoom meetings are no physical school replacement, especially for our young children. But, as we are living in a more digital-driven world and future, how can we draw from this to make it a better learning digital experience?
Reframing The Lesson Plan To Encourage Engagement
One of the first few things we kept going was to keep them engaged. We understand that it is a scary and anxious time for all, especially for our young children. With the lockdown in place, routine and a sense of familiarity wither away, and days and months began to merge.
It’s easy to lose track of the what and when of our daily schedule. Keeping our philosophy at the heart of what we do, we made adjustments, albeit digitally, to stay connected with our young children. After all, it’s the people that make the school, not the building. Being flexible and adaptable to the situation helps both us and the children get through the situation together.
When we’re engaged, it’s more helpful to continue with the lesson at hand, introduce activities, and get them to be a part of the class even remotely. Learning digitally allows us to introduce different guidelines to help them navigate and explore the different etiquettes and social cues.
What’s done usually in class; in person may not necessarily apply here. But again, the key is to be able to understand the emotions they’re experiencing, to listen to each other, and to foster empathy in response to our peers and teachers.
Have Accessible Tools At Hand For Children To Use
We discussed how we kept engaging with our children earlier. We did some things to observe celebrations such as Deepavali and have initiatives where they get to participate online, like musicals and docu-stories.
Beyond academics, we want to ensure that there are still rooms for them to interact with others and a sense of togetherness, even remotely. Tools like virtual check-ins help them to acknowledge how they are feeling. It can be asking open-ended questions and having a conversation about their day or week to break the ice.
More than ever, it was necessary to infuse social intelligence principles into all the things we do — how do we teach that through the different conversations and activities we’re having online? How do we actively create opportunities for them to interact and put these principles to practice?
Having a safe space to address their emotions with each other helps alleviate that fear and uncertainty. We can assist by teaching them different words to label these emotions and strategies or resources to manage them every time they feel that way.
Onboard Parents To Be A Part of This Journey
Nothing helps more than having a solid support system in place. Indeed, virtual learning can only do so much and cannot substitute the social interaction these children need. Some are shy and may not like video calls as much.
It’s essential that we be empathetic towards each other in situations like these and make adjustments where possible. Having parents continue real-time, in-person engagement at home with our young children may be one way to help them adjust and continue learning and fostering their social and emotional development.
In their small ways, they can support that by reinforcing appropriate behaviour, i.e. through verbal praise. Once they learn that some behaviours are encouraged, they’ll be more likely to practice that, and slowly, it’ll be a habit.
Another is to encourage cooperation, especially if they have siblings at home or with peers when they meet online during class. They may not always get along with each other but it’s important to create opportunities for them to share and manage that frustration if it arises.
Being stuck at home for a long time can lead them to develop a short temper or outburst, or in other words, poor expression of emotion. This is an opportunity for parents at home to use words to talk it through — help them learn different vocabulary in terms of acknowledging and labelling their various emotions to work through them.
In closing, taking our classroom online can be a daunting experience for everyone — especially when it caught us off guard. But in the one year of COVID-19, we have learnt much about how having a support system and empathy help everyone get through it.
While it’s no substitute for in-class learning, digital learning is an essential tool to have and adapt it to complement our physical schooling. And now that we’re slowly transitioning back to a physical school, it will take some time for everything to be running at full capacity.
Drawing from the practices and experiences we picked up in virtual classrooms, how can we continue to foster social intelligence in person, with masks on all the time? We hope we will spend time doing quality check-ins with young children and them with each other.
We can do this by first asking how they are doing and feeling and then actively listen to what they have to say. Only then we can proceed to support them in their learning the best we can.
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