Writing for Edutopia, Kerry Elson, a kindergarten and first-grade teacher in New York City, shared strategies on converting a simple snack time into a wealth of social-emotional learning opportunities.
Teaching students to accomplish simple tasks such as preparing and serving snacks and clearing up afterwards allows them to experience the pride of accomplishment and the joy of serving others, Elson writes.
Snack time can also be used to share foods from different cultures represented in the classroom and as a time to offer positive reinforcement to one another through the writing and sharing of prompted notes.
With an increasing focus on educating the whole child, teachers are striving to make every moment in the classroom count. Though this article focuses on the social-emotional aspects of learning that can be incorporated into the simple act of snacking, the National Association for the Education of Young Children also offers other snack-time strategies that include the development of manners and motor skills, as well as lessons in math and language.
Snack time is not the only time in the school day when social-emotional lessons can be taught. The American Academy of Pediatrics stresses the importance of recess in helping students develop social-emotional skills. While some educators see recess as a waste of valuable learning time, “recess serves as a necessary break from the rigors of concentrated, academic challenges in the classroom," the AAP writes, also noting its cognitive, social, emotional and physical benefits.
Even free time or playtime can be turned into a social-emotional learning experience with the right resources. Playworks offers games to help teach kindness, community and conflict resolution.