Our Social Emotional Learning program uses the Responsive Classroom approach (developed by the Northeast Foundation for Children) as its foundational base. The Responsive Classroom consists of a set of classroom management and teaching strategies based upon principles such as: "The social curriculum is as important as the academic curriculum,"
and "How children learn is as important as what children learn."
Students receive regular instruction in the language of social communication from our academic coordinator and counselor. These pragmatic skills include: Eye Contact, Noise Level, Personal Space, Body Language, Tone of Voice, Feedback, Turn Taking, Staying on Topic, Positive Comments, and Clarification. Instruction involves the application of these skills to relevant school-day situations, with the ultimate program goal being age-appropriate problem solving and empathic development beyond the specific instructional setting.
How can I learn to make friends with and show kindness to my peers?
How can I learn to solve conflicts while I understand the feelings of others?
When I feel sad or anxious, which strategies can I use to calm myself or ask for help?
How do I learn best and which strategies can I use to understand and retain what I learn?
What are the best choices I can make in the classroom, at recess, in the cafeteria, around campus and at home to be a healthy person?
Skills and Enduring Understandings:
The Lower School Wellness curriculum encompasses various methods by which our students learn wide-ranging skills which have been found to be as critical to life success as various academic skills. These include, but are not limited to: Social Emotional Learning, Movement, Mindfulness, Yoga, Nutrition Education and Academic Support. Each of these components offer students the direct instruction of strategies for self-management in the interest of self awareness, social awareness, responsible decision making and academic/social success.
Wellness approaches are incorporated into the Pre-Kindergarten homeroom program, while in Kindergarten through fourth grade, Social-Emotional Learning is taught in conjunction with a physical education movement component, allowing students to internalize learned social skills through participation in related physical activities. With emerging research regarding cognitive enhancement through movement and exercise, this Wellness component aims to enhance both social emotional and cognitive development.
Academic Wellness will be addressed via direct instruction regarding strategies to develop executive functioning and metacognition. Students will develop the skills for goal setting, time management, task initiation and completion and organization. This may be accomplished by the use of graphic organizers, with a focus on mind mapping for improved comprehension and retention of learned material. Also, students will be encouraged to “think about how they think”, as they learn to self-question, monitor and evaluate their personal and academic goals.
With the introduction of our new Wellness Center, the Lower School students receive instruction in varied introductory components of mindfulness. There is little doubt about the positive effects of mindful attention to breathing on anxiety and impulsivity. But more recent research focuses on the benefits of mindfulness with regard to improved empathic social interactions, attention, focus, and executive function. The direct instruction of relaxation via mindful breathing and yoga is an important addendum to the whole child educational philosophy at Berwick.
Finally, the nutritional component of wellness is addressed through various modalities, including direct instruction of the food pyramid, movement activities designed to apply learned information through games and quizzes. Healthy food choices are encouraged during lunch periods, with added reinforcement provided for including key food groups in their choices.