Intentionality in Social and Emotional Learning

Lisa Heurung, Katy Pearson, and Staci Prior, Breck Counselors

“Students’ Physical and Emotional Growth are Important in the Pursuit of Potential.” This is taken from the values section of Breck’s mission statement. We know that being intentional about social emotional well-being supports academic health and achievement. How this looks in school will be somewhat different depending on your child’s age.

Social emotional development is mindfully taught in a variety of ways in Breck’s Lower School. Our nationally recognized C.A.R.E. (Care Always, Respect Everyday) program creates the core foundation for our community to focus on personal character using common language and experiences. Beginning in preschool, students are introduced to mindfulness as a foundation to self-awareness, self-regulation and focus. Social skills are strategically taught in each classroom as students learn the ins and outs of social dynamics. Neuroscience and growth mindset teachings enhance this social emotional learning by helping students to understand themselves better as learners and create positive lifetime learning practices.

Students in the middle of childhood and young adulthood are in a state of rapid physical and emotional growth. Friendships/peers take on a new importance, identity expression/confusion and fitting in are of utmost importance. Faculty relationships with students, the Be A Mustang Program, advisory, our close knit community, and the support of the divisional counselor are the safety nets in place to buffer this hyperactive developmental stage. Teaching and fostering resiliency skills: developing optimistic thinking, practicing strong communication skills, being flexible, learning perspective taking, and especially finding connection with others, are key areas of focus in the Middle School. Students need to feel seen, heard and safe so they can positively shepherd in their next phase of development.

The developmental needs of upper schoolers yet again necessitates looking at social emotional learning through its own lens. Perhaps the most efficient way to describe this is with the phrase that is echoed in hallways, advisories, classrooms, and conversations with faculty each and every day: We are not a rules-based school, we are about relationships. If a student has a question about dress code, the conversation will include what we are communicating about respect by what we wear. If there is a comment in class about the relevance of a topic, a discussion is likely to be encouraged around differing perspectives. If a student is consistently late with homework an aspect of that talk will include life balance and sleep. In these ways, and countless others, we attend to the social emotional well-being and learning of the student.

Throughout all stages of developmental growth for our students at Breck, they are surrounded with support from their teachers, advisors, counselors, chaplains, and student support team. Our purpose is the growth, learning, and development of every child and we pride ourselves on the culture of respect that is built in this space.

Lisa Heurung, Lower School Counselor
Katy Pearson, Middle School Counselor
Staci Prior, Upper School Counselor

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