We live in a global society, and today’s students will inherit a world that doesn’t yet exist. Social-emotional learning is vital in children being able to first and foremost understand themselves and then meaningfully relate to others—whether in their Kindergarten classroom or half way around the world. By integrating social-emotional and academic learning through literature, self-study, experience, and discussion, students form a foundation on which to grow, as well as to connect deeply with curriculum, themselves, and others.
In order to lead in this unknown future, it is important for children today to gain the ability to stand in the footsteps of another and appreciate their point of view with an appreciation of their culture.
Young people, beginning with their very first educational environment, are required to be generalists who share academic, intellectual, and emotional space with a group of peers. These environments are filled with diverse learners, thinkers, children and adults with a complex series of curiosities, requests, and demands. Active involvement in social-emotional learning enables students to negotiate the personal side of intelligence.
Through social-emotional learning, students focus on both inter-personal and intra-personal skills. Students gain the ability to generate alternative ways of looking at personal problems and see another’s viewpoint. They can test their moral and developmental thinking and become increasingly confident voicing their beliefs, understandings, and questions in their immediate community as well as outside the school walls.
Students with strong inter-personal and intra-personal skills are empowered with alternative ways of looking at personal problems; they can consider perspectives outside of their own that leads to reflective rather than reactive responses. These children openly test and engage their moral and developmental thinking through the myriad intellectual, academic, and social situations they face each day.
Bennett Day School is leading the way in integrating and supporting social-emotional learning with a rigorous academic program. Through daily Morning Meetings starting in PreK, children are learning how to interact with one another, share ideas, and consider other perspectives. As the children and their social interactions develop, so does the time and intensity of the social-emotional practice. This focus will ensure the realization of Bennett Day School’s mission to develop life long learners and leaders who will successfully interact with the world and people around them.
Dan Sweeney is a leader in social-emotional education. He is the Intermediate and Middle School Head at Seattle Country Day, a premier independent school for gifted and talented students. Dan has presented on social emotional learning at the National Association of Independent Schools and the National Association of Gifted Children’s annual conferences. He has been involved in the Bennett Day School education team since 2012. Dan will continue this conversation about social-emotional development with a focus on grit in December.