In Lower School, social and emotional learning instruction (SEL) is taught formally by teachers and counselors twice weekly, however this learning about self and others takes place organically throughout the entire school day and in all environments as students and teachers interact with one another. Year by year, the program builds with SEL concepts relevant to the needs of our students. Lessons are intentionally designed for students to develop respect for themselves and others, gain emotional awareness and control, learn effective communication skills, and set and achieve their academic goals.
Formal SEL lessons take place through 30 minute meetings that bring students into a circle for a range of experiences including classroom instruction, group discussions, reflections, role-play, community building activities, problem solving, and a variety of mindfulness practices including guided imagery, relaxation and yoga. These meetings provide time for students to learn and practice new skills, while simultaneously developing an understanding of what it means to be both an individual and a group member. These skills are necessary for school success, and they are also necessary for life success.
In first through fourth grades, students continue to address topics that are age appropriate and applicable to their needs. They learn critical interpersonal skills such as “I- statements” and finding win/win solutions. They compare and assess the value of different communication styles such as assertive, passive-aggressive, etc., and discuss how these styles help or hinder problem-solving efforts. Social awareness is emphasized through lessons that foster perspective taking skills and develop increased empathy for others. We also provide activities that promote self-awareness and self-management. Students learn about character traits such as gratitude and persistence, along with Executive Function skills such as flexibility, planning and organization, and impulse control. They practice Mindfulness techniques to develop their attention, concentration and sense of well-being.