Each month, our SEL curriculum will focus on a different theme. Teachers work these SEL themes into the existing curriculum using literature, discussions, and cross-curricular lessons, as well as standalone lessons. Our SEL team has worked hard to prepare a thoughtful overview of the year so that families can understand the focus themes for the year. You can learn more about these themes as well as how you can tie the themes into your home life here.
Feeling connected to others is necessary for students to learn and grow. At Woodside, we strive to find inclusive activities that highlight our similarities but value our differences so that each student feels connected to their peers and to their teachers.
After we get to know each individual, we encourage students to see each member of the class as an important part of the group, which leads to kindness and respect both in and out of the classroom.
At home, you might encourage your children to use their strengths to contribute to the household community, their neighborhood, or in other places that your family frequents. When students contribute in a positive way they feel valued and their confidence grows.
OCTOBER: Know Yourself, Choose Yourself
At Woodside, “Know Yourself” and “Choose Yourself” are two of the three interconnected SEL tenets. In order to promote these tenets, teachers find activities (like multiple intelligences quizzes or identity activities) to support students in learning about who they are as people and as learners. We also have the benefit of knowing students in different settings as we support the learning of the whole child. The teachers at Woodside practice check-ins regularly, which allow students to self-reflect, learn how to communicate feelings, and actively listen in order to learn about others.
As students learn about themselves we encourage them to draw on their strengths so that they CAN choose themselves, in order to be a supportive friend and a successful student.
At home, support your child as they discover their strengths as well as areas that need some growth, and allow them to be a contributing member of the family and the household responsibilities.
Just a small offering of appreciation can transform relationships and boost student self-worth. Studies have shown that when someone gets appreciated, they feel more socially valued, and this can lead to prosocial behavior. In other words, when someone receives thanks, they are more likely to pay it forward. The more teachers express and practice gratitude, the more inclined students will be to do the same, leading to a more appreciative, supportive, and equitable community. It is also important to express gratitude for the things that we have rather than talk about what we don’t have. There is so much to be grateful for about Woodside school and the community!
At home, you can practice gratitude by filling a gratitude jar or by asking each member of the family what they were thankful for today during dinner.
At Woodside, we strive to create a safe place to take risks and to learn from mistakes.
Risk-taking involves putting oneself in the position of potentially losing something or “failing” in order to achieve a goal. Teachers can incorporate risk-taking into the curriculum to create a culture where students feel safe -- a culture where mistakes can be celebrated. Doing so encourages students to experiment and persevere even when they fail. Teachers know that it is important to honor the struggle; we also know that challenges make our brains grow.
At home, you can create an environment where it is ok to make mistakes, allow children the space and time to figure out how to manage themselves with your support so that they can become independent, competent, and confident.
JANUARY: Empathy & Peace
With the support and modeling of teachers, Empathy is a skill that can be learned and mastered. Through getting to know each other in a classroom community or by discussing a character in a book, we can ask students to put themselves in another’s shoes; we can ask students to shift away from their perspective and step into how the world might look from someone else’s.
As we learn to be empathetic it may take patience. While practicing patience we provide tools such as breathing techniques and mindfulness practices, which support students in this skill and build peace both in oneself and within the group. Asking students to develop empathy and learn to perspective shift builds tolerance and leads to a peaceful environment and school community.
At home, providing feedback and asking process questions such as “How do you think that person might feel…” or “How would that make you feel if…” as your child experiences their own or others’ conflict, or even when discussing what a character has experienced in a book or TV show allows the entire household to practice empathy and compassion.
FEBRUARY: Respect, Conflict Resolution
Teaching respect in the classroom helps students succeed. Teachers can promote respectful behavior by having clear expectations and expecting students to rise to meet the challenge of being their best selves, and students are able to feel safe in the predictable environment. Having an environment that promotes respect for the teacher and classroom makes it easy for children to follow suit; they treat each other respectfully and respond to direction and instruction in a positive way. In effect, distractions and behavioral disruptions are lessened and all students are more likely to succeed in academics. Self-respect is also critical to our students. Teaching self-respect to children fosters self-confidence, promotes the ability to reach potential and to make worthwhile contributions to society.
When students respect themselves and others they are more likely to be able to deal with conflict. Teachers and staff can support students as they learn to navigate conflicts that happen both in and out of the class by promoting the use of “I messages” and a discussion that leads to a “win-win” solution.
At home, you can also promote the use of I messages and win-win problem solving when resolving conflict in the house with other members of the family.
As educators, we provide opportunities for students to pursue their passions, see persistence pay off, and be mindful of their goals. As students practice and demonstrate perseverance in order to reach their potential or work toward goals, we return to the idea that Woodside School is a good place to challenge oneself, take risks, fail safely, and come out stronger and ready for more challenges. Perseverance also encourages students to work on some of the other skills of character building. They must have self-respect and kindness when the challenge is great. They must honor the first tenet of our program and know themselves (strengths and weaknesses) and they practice patience in order to promote inner peace.
At home, support your child if/when they struggle with challenges. Help them learn grit, self-respect, and when to take a break or take a deep breath so that they can learn to persevere.
APRIL: Cooperation Cooperation is a chance to re-emphasize what we have learned about community -- We all have different strengths, and we are better together. When teachers choose to engage in cooperative learning, students work together to meet both individual and classroom learning goals. At Woodside School, there are so many opportunities for students to work together and practice cooperation. In the classroom, there are group projects or working together in a table group to support each other’s learning. In PE and music, the efforts of the team or ensemble lead to the success of the group. Students learn to cooperate with students in other grade levels in our buddy program, and of course, there is recess, where we are able to practice cooperative play and encourage conflict resolution when necessary.
At home, siblings working together to accomplish a common goal will only help to support their connection, especially when parents or other adult family members encourage kindness, equity, and conflict resolution.
MAY: Friendship & Inclusion
At the end of the year, we come full circle and return to the idea of community. By this time, students have had a chance to build relationships. Students can understand, value, and support differences in each other, whether they be in how we look or how we learn. They have had opportunities for growth in each of the words or themes and they can see that even when it seems harder to include everyone, it ends up being the kinder choice. It doesn’t matter how you arrived in Woodside, we are all members of this school community and we all deserve to have a positive school experience where we are each able to reach our full potential.