Increasing Social-Emotional Independence

Written by Seth Pozzi, Asst. Head of School on .

Something happened a couple weeks ago. It was nothing new; it is nothing out of the ordinary. However, it epitomizes our school’s (and our teachers’) approach to social-emotional learning.

THE SITUATION: A kindergartner is having a difficult time saying goodbye to Mom. The teacher is outside the classroom helping the child prepare to join the class.

THE SOLUTION: Rather than an adult trying to solve the problem or the parent entering the classroom, the student was able to make the choice to come in and go directly to the classroom library to take a break and regain composure. More importantly, the student was able to self-select a tool (one of the calming sensory bottles stored in the library area) to help herself calm down and transition into the school day. If you haven’t yet seen them, they work like magic for many children!

Within less than two minutes, the student had calmed down and was able to sit and watch the beginning of Morning Meeting (by far the most important time in the school day). And within another one to two minutes, the student had joined the class on the rug for Morning Meeting.
 Belief that the child is capable of overcoming the situation.
 Belief that children, like adults, need autonomy and opportunities to make choices.
 Belief that adults don’t need to solve every challenging situation a child faces (though we do provide support!)

This is a small situation that occurred within a matter of minutes, but I believe it sends a strong message about our school’s philosophy of teaching children various tools and allowing them to use these tools with increasing independence.

I congratulate our teachers for constantly innovating and bringing in creative ways of teaching, both academic and social-emotional skills. If you have not been on the school blog on the WHPS website recently, I encourage you to take a fresh look at even more of the ways our teachers and our school continue to live out our ESLRS (Expected School-wide Learning Results).

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