School Break Loneliness Busters

"Let me see what you've written about sometimes feeling lonely."

“Let me see what you’ve written about sometimes feeling lonely.”

Hi and welcome back to Attention-ology for K – 5 Teachers!

When you send students off for vacation at the end of a school term or welcome them at the beginning of camp or a new adventure, you have a special opportunity to connect with children…all children and especially those that may not admit to being lonely, but send signals telling you so.

What to do? Catch and keep kids’ attention by sharing what I call loneliness busters.  No need to single students out for these activities. Offer them to everyone for use if ever needed. There’s a lesson in that…we all feel lonely sometimes.

Let’s face it…the world can be a scary or lonely place. Most adults have developed strategies for managing feelings of loneliness, but many of us still need “a shoulder to lean on” sometimes. Experienced educators know that children are less skilled at dealing with negative feelings. They benefit from guidance we can offer, including the admission that we sometimes feel lonely too. Loneliness knows no age limit.

When teachers, camp counselors and other adults who work with K – 5 children creatively break through the barrier that negative feelings, like loneliness, can construct, we create communication lines that can help students gain a more positive sense of themselves and the world around them. In the process, caring adults help children re-focus on learning and enjoying themselves wherever they are – in school, in camp, etc – so that they can be successful.

It’s usually – not always, but usually – easy to spot kids who are struggling with difficult feelings – shyness, loneliness, anger, frustration.

I’ve had success with a loneliness buster that helps students in grades 3 – 5 get past bad feelings by writing about them. See if this works for you…

…I invite them to write on a computer when one is available, or with pencil and paper.

To introduce this activity I read a poem about loneliness that I’ve written (see below) and I read it aloud as a surprise – almost always on a day when my

Focused writing helps students deal with difficult feelings.

Focused writing helps students deal with difficult feelings.

students seem a bit downhearted or more distracted than usual.

When I introduce this poem I tell the class that the title asks a questionWe talk for a minute or two about why questions attract attention. Everyone knows the answer…a question needs an answer – that’s why!

Then I ask them to listen for the question and think about their answer to it as they hear my poem…

Am I The ONLY One?

Am I the only one

Who sometimes feels lonely?

No?

You feel lonely, too?

You do?

Then, that makes two who feel blue.

It’s not always easy to say

What makes me feel this way.

What exactly spoils your day?

People who don’t seem to care?

People too busy to stop and see

How lonely you may be?

At least now I know

That I am not the only one

Who feels I miss out

On some of the fun.

Thanks for telling me

That I’m not the only one.

Maybe it will help

For us to learn

How to better share what we feel.

Yes!

Finding ways to be happier,

Now, that’s a BIG deal!

After I finish reading Am I The ONLY One? aloud I offer the class a choice...we can talk more together to see what answers students have to the title question (strictly on a voluntary basis – I never force students to share personal feelings in front of the class) or we can “climb into our private, quiet zones” and write individual poems about loneliness to share later.

At the close of class, I challenge the students to think of loneliness busters in addition to writing and to – what else – write them down!

Remember, you don’t need to be a magician to work magic in instructional settings!

Stop by on Wednesday for Mid-Week Focus. Please send comments about tools and strategies you use to help children deal with difficult feelings. 

Talk with you next week,

Barbara ♥ The Lovable Poet

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Posted in Attentionology for K-5 Teachers
Barbara Cleary has been serving as a resource to hundreds of educators for more than 25 years. An award-winning writer, producer, teacher, and trainer, Barbara’s focus is on offering easy, fun tools and tricks that support K-5 curricula and assist teachers with classroom management.
Quick tips for common classroom conundrums: K-5
Situation: Students continue to use lackluster verbs in their writing.

Solution: Show toy cars and pretend to make them zip across a page, telling the class that good writing includes action words (verbs) that have "zip." Ask the class for examples of "zippy" verbs like zoom, race, flash, rush, etc.

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