Social Emotional Development in the Early Childhood and Elementary Grades
As we consider the whole child, we recognize that children are emotional and social beings. In addition to being capable of learning subject matter and demonstrating proficiency in their learning, there must be room to nurture the social and emotional side of children, because their emotional disposition permeates all that they do and influences how they see and respond to the world around them. Taking this into consideration, embedded in lesson planning, activities, and programming our teachers employ many of the Responsive Classroom practices, in addition to SEL (Social and Emotional Learning) principles that are unique to NSCS. It is essential to nurture and foster social competencies in our students, as we grow their emotional intelligence alongside their spiritual formation and intellectual development. This is best accomplished by building class communities that begin with the basic premise that all people ae image-bearers of Christ.
Each class begins the day with a Morning Meeting, that includes a time of devotions and prayer. As we seek God first, we believe that all things will fall into place as students assume a calm posture during Morning Meeting, and have been given time to share and express their needs, and to hear from others before starting the work of the day.
In grades Preschool-4th, the day ends with a Closing Circle. This is time for students and teachers to reflect together, and as a community, on how the day went, what needs improvement, and what is to be celebrated. During these times, children build trust with one another, and the community within is strengthened.
NSCS has a SEL Coach. This individual works with teachers to provide grade-appropriate tools to foster social emotional (SE) growth. In addition to this support, our SEL Coach meets with students in small groups or 1:1, as needed. Professional development is offered to our faculty throughout the year, as we realize the need of continuous SE student support as we grow capacity in our students.
SAFE Groups in Grades 5-8
Building on the foundation of building social emotional competencies integral to classroom instruction and social emotional development in early childhood and elementary classrooms at NSCS, we also offer SAFE groups for students in grades 5-8. SAFE groups continue to foster and develop these same competencies in our students by intentionally providing and educationally safe environment for our students to engage with faculty as they intentionally foster the continued growth of pro-social emotional development in the middle school years.
What is SAFE Group? SAFE stands for Students and Faculty Engaging. At least twice a week our Middle School faculty and their students “hop off” the academic track. Gathering in small breakaway groups, our faculty provides a safe space and critical time to engage students around social and emotional issues. Research supports the fact that students must have SEL (Social Emotional Learning) opportunities that are authentic and leave room for students to ask questions and wrestle with important, and often difficult, ideas, concepts, and experiences in a safe space. Students need time to process and purposefully engage in community building efforts that support emotional well-being.
SAFE groups also provide a forum for our students to apply skills and competencies learned in real life situations, whether in serving others, engaging and understanding reciprocal dialogue or developing leadership skills – all in an effort to build confidence, self-awareness, relationship building, self-management, or responsible decision making.
Students in grades 5-8 end their day with a homeroom or SAFE Groups.