Navigating Changes in Routines
It is important to maintain consistent routines to provide stability and security for students. However, life is unpredictable, and both planned and unplanned changes in routine can significantly impact students. Employing trauma-informed strategies can help students navigate through these changes, whether they’re due to holidays, weather conditions, or unexpected events. Here are some strategies to support students leading up to school breaks and during unplanned changes in routine, ensuring their emotional well-being is nurtured throughout.
Supporting students leading up to breaks
The anticipation of school breaks can be exciting for some students, but for others, it can be a source of anxiety, especially if they face challenges at home, like food insecurity or other safety concerns. Here are some trauma-informed strategies to provide support:
- Foster a sense of belonging: Create a compassionate and inclusive classroom environment where students feel safe to express their concerns. Encourage open dialogue about breaks and address any worries or fears students may have.
- Establish support systems: Collaborate with school counselors, social workers, and community organizations to identify students who may need additional assistance. Connect them with appropriate resources, such as food banks, during the break period.
- Maintain consistent routines: Leading up to breaks, try to maintain a consistent classroom schedule. This predictability can offer stability and a sense of security for students, especially those facing unpredictability outside of school.
Strategies to navigate unplanned changes in routine
Unplanned disruptions to routines, like staying indoors for recess due to inclement weather or unexpected fire drills, can be challenging for students. Here’s how to help them adjust and build resilience during these times:
Prepare in advance: In the case of severe weather or other situation-specific changes, when possible, keep students informed ahead of time. Explain the reasons behind the changes and assist them in understanding the temporary adjustments they may need to make. Creating social narratives and using them to prepare students to know how to respond in the event of these changes can also help students to feel more prepared.
Teach coping strategies: Offer students a range of coping strategies tailored to their needs, such as deep breathing exercises or engaging in quiet activities during indoor recess. These techniques can help students redirect their focus and regulate their emotions during unexpected changes.
Validate emotions and offer support: Reassure students that it is natural to feel unsettled or frustrated when routines are disrupted. Listen attentively to their concerns, validate their emotions, and provide a safe space for them to express their feelings.
Supporting students through changes in their routine is crucial to their emotional well-being and overall academic success. By implementing trauma-informed strategies, educators can foster resilience and empower students to navigate these transitions more effectively. Remember, a compassionate and understanding approach will pave the way for a positive learning environment where students feel supported, valued, and secure, no matter what changes come their way.
Written by Kalin Schoephoerster, Instructional Designer & Licensed Special Education Teacher