Prekindergarten & Kindergarten
SEL is a major focus of the prekindergarten and kindergarten program. Though SEL instruction is not offered as a formal class, it is a central piece of the program that is constructed and organically negotiated every day as young children and teachers interact with one another, work on studies together, work with materials, and play. Children and teachers hypothesize, compare, provoke, contest, and come to consensus about ideas, gradually building a strong sense of the group's perspectives, what it means to be a member of a community, and the uniqueness of each individual.
Students begin by learning critical interpersonal skills. Through “I Statements” and the companion skill of active listening, they set the stage for relationship, academic risk-taking, concept retention, motivation and trust. They practice gratitude and appreciation, learning to observe acts of kindness or accomplishment, and publically recognizing them through extending their “I Statements” outwardly.
Students are presented with the concept of escalation and de-escalation which are essential to conflict resolution. As they understand more and more, they practice calming and escalating actions in role-play exercises using real and hypothetical situations they encounter every day. They identify strategies for cooling off and self-calming to manage their emotions, developing increased resiliency. They practice mindfulness, such as guided relaxation, to develop greater focus and self-awareness.
Each year, these fundamentals are reviewed early in the year, and the SEL specialist determines the progression of new skills. Students are introduced to the actions and attitudes of friendship, teamwork and what it means to collaborate. They consider effective inclusive behaviors: offering encouragement, opening up groups to others, complimenting someone’s ideas, paying attention to another’s tone of voice, and giving clear and direct messages to each other when necessary, again practicing with relevant examples.
As they reach the 3rd and 4th grades, they are furthering their skills in peer mediation through reflective listening, paraphrasing, brainstorming, and solidifying agreements. They reflect on their inner or hidden voices and how these voices impact their behavior. In every year, mindfulness plays an important part in developing their attention, concentration and sense of well-being.
Reflection is an essential skill of metacognition taught during SEL. During important end-of-year activities, SEL principles are affirmed as students actively look back on their experiences, especially on trips taken, and identify the SEL tools that helped them most. They acknowledge their own growth, they appreciate their classmates, and they feel a sense of confidence, appreciation and accomplishment.
SEL Practices and Domains
Example practices and their SEL domains are shown below.
|SEL Practices||Descriptions||SEL Domains|
|“I” statements||Students learn how to ask for what they want or need in non-blaming language.||Self-awareness|
|Active listening||Frequent practice in bringing ones’ full awareness to another person.||
|Emotion vocabulary||Developing the words to express a range of emotions.||Self-awareness|
|Calming/escalating behaviors||Learning strategies for managing strong emotions.||
|Conflict escalation/de-escalation||Practice in how actions change the course of situations that students are likely to encounter.||Relationship skills|
|Appreciation||Practice in expressing acknowledgement or thanks for an act of kindness or accomplishment.||Relationship skills|
|Win/win||Role-playing providing practice at reaching solutions that work for all parties.||Relationship skills|
|Conscious breathing & guided relaxation||Mindfulness practices that bring calm and a sense of well being.||Self-management|