As parents, we remind our children to say “please” and “thank you” and share with others. However, when our children become adolescents, we often find that we have less time with them. Who then is helping us with this critical social aspect of their development?
We know social and emotional learning (SEL) is as vital as the core content taught in schools. Our children need to “acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions” – casel.org.
Unfortunately, after elementary school, the holistic nature of education decreases dramatically. Gone is our child’s one teacher who has only 25 students for most of the day; the replacement is six or seven teachers who have up to 160 students each day. Taking away this deep knowing of each child and adding in textbook-driven rigor, our adolescents often become two-dimensional recipients of information instead of unique individuals with specific strengths and challenges.
Counseling and social skills groups help students learn these skills. Secondary schools that make this a priority teach these skills in the rich daily environment where students can practice them. These schools are often smaller, community-focused, and more personalized. They have found success in addressing social and emotional learning and creating holistic opportunities for student growth through:
- Project-based learning
- Advisory time
- Self-directed club time
- Daily check-ins
- Practice with self-regulation and autonomy to meet needs
- Knowledge of learning style and self-advocacy support to practice creating an optimal learning setting
- Self- and peer-assessment opportunities to practice honest and kind reflection and giving feedback
At LEADPrep we use each of these features to support the holistic academic, social, and emotional learning of each student. If a student is very energetic, she knows she can ask for a quick break to run around the building and come back ready to focus. If a student is needing space, he is encouraged to self-advocate and ask to work in the adjoining room. Through regular projects in science, STEM, and digital storytelling students practice leadership and collaboration. In Toastmasters, skills are gained in communication and providing constructive feedback.
A parent comments, “It is great that LEADPrep can offer the personalization of a 1:1 school while setting expectations that students communicate and work together.”
At LEADPrep middle/high school we support the holistic development of adolescents through integrated academic and social/emotional learning.