illustration of a student's face in profile

When students are able to manage their feelings and emotions, it can lead to improved academic outcomes. That’s why it’s so important for teachers to focus on social-emotional learning (SEL) and to teach students healthy coping strategies. When students arrive to class, they may be bringing stressors like loss, relationship issues, financial hardship, and more with them — all of which can impact their ability to focus on lessons, participate in class, or engage with their peers. To help educators give students the emotional support they need, we asked TpT’s social-emotional learning experts for advice.

Strategies to support students’ emotional needs

  • “I recommend that educators help students to identify the wide variety of emotions that exist. [. . .] Most students know happy, sad, and angry, but few are easily able to articulate when they feel lonely, confused, overwhelmed, or jealous. By giving students the appropriate language and understanding to identify how they are feeling, they can make better choices to help them move through their discomfort.” — Success in Special Ed  
  • “[I recommend] all creative activities like drawing, painting, learning music, gardening, doing basic housework, doing seva [acts of service], cooking. Creativity balances the left and right brain and gives the logical side the much-needed rest.”— Swati Sharma
  • “Give students a space in your classroom (or virtually) to go to when they are feeling overwhelmed. [. . .] Having a quiet area of your classroom with calming tools is a great way to provide the safety and security kids need when they are stressed out.” — Amy Murray – Teaching Exceptional Kinders 
  • Mindfulness and meditation are helpful to find a calm starting point or to refocus. These can be done online or independently once students have been taught some exercises they can use on their own.” — Studio Smart
  • “Research has shown what an impact daily journaling can have on adults’ lives and thousands of adults have discovered this self-care strategy in recent years. We need to be teaching students the power of journaling and self-reflection now as a simple and safe way to support their own mental health.” — BreatheSmileTeach

For the full list of tips, download the tip sheet below to get all of the recommendations from our Teacher-Author experts.

Image of the downloadable tip sheet

To help students fully engage in their learning, it’s vital for teachers to provide coping strategies for their emotions and support their overall social-emotional needs. These Teacher-Author tips are just a few of the many ways of doing so. You can also try these SEL-focused TpT Digital Activities, resources that include both a printable and digital option so that you can support your students’ emotional needs through any type of instruction.


This post originally appeared in TpT’s Back to School 2020 Guide: For Teachers Creating Tomorrow.