Simple Steps To Combat Student Loneliness

Many young people feel lonely on a daily basis. However, there are things you can do to help them overcome feelings of loneliness.

Loneliness is something people experience at some point in their lives. However, for some, the difficulty of forming social relationships, or thinking that others see them as being “different” because of their physical appearance, disability, sexual orientation, gender, or other characteristics, may cause a feeling of being rejected by others. This can lead to lower self-esteem, less self-confidence, and negative academic performance. It is important to respond quickly as loneliness could have significant negative effects on physical and mental well-being.

How To Help

First, integrate social skills teaching into your daily routine. Children and adolescents need to be taught how to build and maintain positive friendships and relationships with their peers. Coach them on how to approach their peers, how to interact with them in healthy ways, and how to build trust and empathy. Think of activities that allow for students to find similarities with each other and to practice their social skills under your guidance.

Second, create time every day to work on teacher-student relationships. Students in your class(es) should not go unnoticed. Make sure your classroom is a place where all students see and hear their name on a regular basis. Model social skills with students who do not participate in lessons and activities to encourage them to take action and be seen. Most importantly, give your students opportunities to practice their social skills with you.

Check-In Questions

Grades 1-3

  • Do you feel lonely at school?
  • It’s hard for me to make friends in school
  • I feel left out of things in my class
  • There are kids in my school who I play with

Grades 4-8

  • Do you feel lonely at school?
  • It’s hard for me to make friends in school
  • I feel left out of things in my school
  • I feel close to people at my school

Routines

  • Assign a greeter at the door to welcome every student by name. The greeter can be a teacher or a student
  • Create a celebration routine at the end of each period that is unique to that class
  • Create an “I Feel Chart”– Using the chart, have student self report how they feel when starting and leaving your classroom by pointing to parts of the chart as they enter and exit

Classroom Ideas and Activites

  • Create a classroom charter to promote student buy-in and trust in the classroom. Keep the charter posted in your classroom and refer back to it regularly. This allows student to be part of the decision-making process
  • Write personal notes with dry-erase or wet-markers directly on desks or use sticky notes to let students know you are thinking about them or proud of them.
  • Ask a closed-ended question (Coke or Pepsi? dogs or cats?) during roll call. Each student will answer when their name is called. Have students make mental nots of students who share similar likes with them.

Classroom Environment and Set Up

  • Post students’ names in the classroom. ” A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”– Dale Carnegie
  • Send a letter or postcard home to each student throughout the year recognizing their contribution to the classroom. Pre-address envelopes at the beginning of the year and pick a few students each week to whom to send notes.
  • Have a “special chair” that students are selected to sit on for a week.

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