Superintendent Bob Gadomski is modeling self-care for students, families, educators, and staff in Somersworth and Rollinsford through the district’s newly announced SELF days. SELF, which stands for Social Emotional Learning Fridays, encourages students and staff to commit to their own wellbeing every Friday.
“The academic aspects of education are impossible if the human aspect of education is lost. By providing everyone with a day to catch up, regroup, collaborate with family and friends, and relax, we anticipate that we will be more effective to meet everyone’s needs,” Superintendent Gadomski told Reaching Higher NH.
Gadomski sent out a district-wide letter that set expectations for staff on Fridays: no new instruction, touch base with students and answer questions, reconnect with family and colleagues, prep for the week ahead, and participate in hobbies. He also emphasizes that staff need to relax and care for themselves.
Students will have the chance to catch up on assignments without the pressure of new instruction. Gadomski also encourages them to get exercise, connect with family and friends (remotely), and play board games.
“In the beginning of the year, I spoke about the importance of self-care. During these stressful times, this is more important than ever! We understand the importance of social and emotional support for our students and families, but it is equally as important for us to commit to self-care,” he wrote in the district letter.
Gadomski said that he got the idea for SELF Fridays from his daughter, Kali Gadomski Hite, who has a Master’s degree in Psychology. They were discussing how to best meet the needs of students, staff, and families during this time, and they came up with the idea.
“Remote learning is a vast change from the traditional school day. The biggest thing that was missing was the social emotional aspect of teaching and learning,” he said. He hopes that the day will give a chance for students and staff to regroup and reflect on the week.
SELF Fridays will be in place through May 1.
There are many resources for supporting children and families during this time, including:
- Feeling Anxiety About Coronavirus? A Psychologist Offers Tips to Stay Clearheaded, University of California San Francisco
- How to Talk to Kids About Coronavirus, New York Times
- Resources for Supporting Children’s Emotional Well-being during the COVID-19 Pandemic, provided by child trauma experts at Child Trends and the Child Trauma Training Center at the University of Massachusetts
- Stress, Resilience, and the Role of Science: Responding to the Coronavirus Pandemic, from the Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University
- Helping Children Cope, a resource from the Centers for Disease Control that includes common reactions based on a child’s age, resources, and more