Giving children the tools to combat emotional concerns

A bilingual Montessori school in San Diego, in the USA, is offering in-person learning and building emotional tools for their pre-schoolers through Kindergarteners aged 18 months thru six years old. Their efforts are guiding their students and families to manage and overcome stress and anxiety. Kelly McFarland, M.Ed., and Director of La Jolla Montessori School, describes the strategies they are using in their school to help kids become resilient.

“Our classroom teachers have been renewing focus towards building a third core strength with our students and their parents: emotional intelligence.”

She describes core strengths implemented as part of their school’s protocols during the pandemic:

Building three core strengths

Prior to the pandemic, the primary core strengths taught have been academic prowess and social skills. The school Director explained that since COVID they’ve added a third.
“The pandemic has been instrumental in creating a third–managing emotions and empathy,” she says.

From ‘go-go’ to ‘slow go’ to ‘no go’

“Our lives have become so stressful that we need to give ourselves time to focus and concentrate,” McFarland says. “So, our classroom teachers have been adding emotional learning to teach everyone how to ‘slow go’ rather than ‘go-go’.”

So, slow down. Take a breath. Take care of yourself. Be the example to show your children and family that it’s an important part of life. You’ll overpower self-induced stress and anxiety and show your family to do the same.

The value of mummy time during the pandemic

Parents need to be alone and unplug to stay strong. It’s okay to take turns watching your children or asking your extended family or friends to help. Tell your children that you’ll be back in 20 minutes while you do something healthy like take a walk, ride the bike or meditate. They will see that mommy is using a positive and healthy outlet to take care of herself and will learn a positive message from it.

Why your kids should return to school

The pandemic has forced parents to be home 24/7 while dealing with the virus; their children’s disrupted schooling and social lives; their own careers; aging parents; and, potential economic hardships. McFarland and her team have a solution and have successfully created the safe space for the children to learn and have fun at school while parents can focus on work. “In school, your children’s day is structured, ordered and routine,” McFarland says. “So, when the kids return home at 3:00pm, they are part of their parent’s world more than ever before.”

Still, it’s worse for kids who are not back in school. Sadly, those toddlers and preschoolers may not be learning how to process and overcome the stresses and anxieties nor getting the social interactions they need.

Overcoming stress and anxiety

Being a strong role model for your child is critical for them to manage and overcome stress and anxiety. “Mom and Dad, keep talking with your kids and be a strong model for them,” McFarland says. “Mommy time equals emotional balance. And taking time for yourself is far better than eating a pint of ice cream or taking it out on the kids. Finally, go easy on yourself. You’re doing a good job!”

At La Jolla Montessori School, teaching academics, social skills and emotional concepts are the three foundational touch points toward ways to overcome stress and anxiety and building independent adults going forward.

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