Lower School Social-Emotional Learning

Nueva’s SEL program reflects our 50-year commitment to nurturing the whole child and prioritizing student development of social and emotional intelligence skills. Exciting research that proves long-term positive outcomes for students who receive quality SEL instruction validates this cornerstone of Nueva’s educational philosophy.

In the Lower School, students start their SEL journey by learning the basic vocabulary of emotions. Topics progress to include active listening, emotion regulation, social cues, conflict resolution, friendship, group dynamics, appreciation, metacognition, and others. Learning takes place through a variety of experiences, including classroom instruction, exercises, reflections, role-playing, collaborative projects, and mindfulness practices, including guided imagery, breathing, relaxation, movement, and yoga.



Prekindergarten and Kindergarten

A major focus of the prekindergarten and kindergarten programs, SEL occurs organically yet deliberately every day, as young students and teachers interact, work together, and play. Students and teachers hypothesize, compare, provoke, contest, and come to consensus about ideas, while valuing both group and individual perspectives and building understanding about what it means to be a member of a caring community. Students begin building their emotional literacy, including recognizing and communicating their own emotions and noticing emotions in others.

Grades 1–4

As in all three divisions, Lower School SEL occurs through weekly formal instruction, integration in other subjects and activities, partnership with parents, and responsive support, as the SEL specialist and classroom teachers help students through common academic, social, and emotional challenges. The SEL specialist and classroom teachers reinforce concepts from prior years through continuous practice while adding relevant, age-appropriate topics as students grow.

Both in the moment and through role-playing real and hypothetical everyday situations, students learn the interrelated skills of self-awareness, effective communication, and emotion regulation. They practice recognizing their emotions and strategies for managing them, “I Statements,” active listening, noticing others’ tone of voice and nonverbal cues, calming and escalating actions, and communicating directly, assertively, and clearly. Throughout the Lower School SEL experience, students engage in mindfulness practices that help them develop greater focus, impulse control, resilience, self-awareness, and well-being. These skills combine to lay the foundation for important academic aptitudes, such as concept retention, concentration, perseverance, self-advocacy, and academic risk-taking.

Students also learn and practice additional interpersonal tools that contribute to successful friendships, teamwork, and collaboration, as well as to personal well-being. They practice inclusive behaviors, such as offering encouragement, opening up a group to others, and complimenting others’ ideas, and they develop an attitude of gratitude and appreciation by learning to observe and publicly recognize acts of kindness or accomplishment.

As they reach the third and fourth grades, students further their skills in communication and peer mediation through reflective listening, paraphrasing, brainstorming, and solidifying agreements. With growing capacity for self-awareness and metacognition, they also reflect on their inner world and how their thoughts impact their behavior.

Learn more about SEL