Home > Publications > The Impact Lockdown Had on Students’ Social/Emotional Development

In recent years, many schools have begun incorporating social-emotional learning (SEL) initiatives into their curriculum to help students navigate the world more healthily. Then the pandemic happened, and all of that came to a halt. With the scramble to educate students remotely, teachers had to focus on learning how to use new digital tools to reach their students. For some, it was challenging enough just to have all of their students in their Zoom meeting at the same time. While social-emotional learning had to take a backseat initially, it is needed now more than ever.

At Youth Voices Center, we understand the impact the pandemic has had on students and their ability to learn. Reach out to learn more about how the Power of Peace program can help your students reach their full potential by calling 914-329-3427.

How Did Lockdown Affect Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) in Students?

Social-emotional learning is not just the latest buzzword in education — it provides a much-needed comprehensive approach to educating children. SEL offers insight into why some children struggle in school and which skills need to be nurtured to help them succeed. The five core competencies of social-emotional learning are:

  • Relationship skills
  • Responsible decision-making
  • Self-awareness
  • Self-management
  • Social awareness

Without incorporating SEL into the remote learning environment, students’ mental health and well-being suffer. The skills taught are often not introduced in the home environment. Lockdown led to most students spending their time at home 24/7. The effects can be devastating for those living in environments not conducive to social-emotional health. 

As a result of lockdown and a fully remote school day, many students have experienced:

  • A feeling of disconnection or isolation from their peers and family members
  • Loneliness, particularly if they live alone with parents 
  • Anxiety about the virus and the potential for future lockdowns
  • Overwhelm about keeping up with digital schoolwork, particularly if they do not have reliable access to digital devices and the internet at home
  • Fear, instability, or insecurity if a parent got sick or lost their job
  • Grief if they lost a loved one to the virus

The pandemic presents an unprecedented challenge for today’s students. Without addressing their social-emotional needs, many many fall through the cracks. Thankfully, schools can implement SEL practices in the classroom and the online learning environment to sharpen students’ coping skills and increase their resilience to life challenges.

Ways to Promote SEL in Schools

At this time, schools are on drastically varied schedules, with some fully remote, others partially remote, and some that have not yet ventured back into full-time in-person learning. Since all of that can change at a moment’s notice, as we saw with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is best to prepare yourself with strategies to promote SEL both virtually and in person. Here are some ideas to help teachers and other school staff promote SEL:

  • Schedule regular check-ins with your students. These can take place whether in the classroom or online. It is an opportunity for students to be heard and know that someone is looking out for them.
  • Pose questions to your students regarding their well-being. You can post the questions in an online classroom forum or on the board if in person. Allow time to discuss and share ways to help manage struggles.
  • Teach students about journaling and provide opportunities for them to write in their journals, whether or not they choose to share them. This may be the only chance they get to express themselves without fear of judgment or consequences.
  • Look for outside support from professionals who specialize in students’ social-emotional development. Motivational speakers are excellent resources for building SEL skills in students.

In addition to providing social-emotional learning opportunities for your students, administrators should also arrange for SEL professional development for teachers to support the well-being of themselves and their students. 

Youth Voices Center: Offering Power of Peace Workshop to Support SEL

Would you like support for your students’ social-emotional learning? Youth Voices Center can visit your school or community center to work with your teens. Learn more about the Power of Peace Program or reach out by calling 914-329-3427.