Developing as Social/Emotional Beings

by Head of Lower School Jenn Elkin

At Pike, our job as faculty and staff remains fairly consistent day-to-day:

  • to educate our students in the academic and social/emotional realms
  • to create a culture that allows for authentic communication, the opportunity for appropriate risk-taking, and the development of a growth mindset
  • to ensure a safe environment for each student to grow physically and emotionally.

We are fortunate to have significant resources at our disposal to aid us in this endeavor, and we strive to stay current in our own thinking and learning to meet students’ evolving needs.

In more recent years, topics that were once the purview of psychologists, pediatricians and parents — meant for them to learn about and impart to children — have become more commonplace as topics of discussion and learning in our everyday school experience. Many of these relate to how children behave and the developmental phases they go through on their childhood journey. Learning how to regulate their bodies and emotions, what it means to be a friend, how to feel and show empathy toward others, and how to deal with unexpected outcomes or disappointment—all of these happen within the normal stages of growth and have become explicitly instructed topics within our social/emotional curriculum.

Yet, as students spend more time in structured settings from a younger age, not only are they expected to learn how to handle themselves across a range of settings but we, their parents and teachers, must know how to support them in their development in an ongoing, consistent and appropriate way.

Who would have thought ten years ago that the resources we use to support Pike students in their growth as social/emotional beings would be as varied as the children we teach and serve, let alone mirror those areas adults find helpful for their own growth? Resources like Mindful Schools (classroom teaching of mindfulness and meditation techniques), Yoga4Classrooms (classroom teaching of yoga and relaxation skills), PBSKids (parenting and teacher resources), Open Circle, and Responsive Classroom are a common part of our daily classroom workings. I encourage you to explore their websites to learn more about what they offer.

In addition to these important social/emotional topics, one other topic seems to have increased in its impact on student academic and social/emotional learning over the past several years — that is, the topic of worry and anxiety. Several years ago, faculty and staff at Pike were introduced to Lynn Lyons, LICSW and author of Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents. Lynn has spoken at Pike several times (for both faculty professional development and at Parent to Parent nights), and her practice focuses on helping children and families deal directly and actively with children’s every day worry and anxiety. We continue to rely on her expert advice and knowledge in this area, and for those interested she is beginning an online training/webinar related to this topic entitled, “Managing Anxiety at School & At Home: An Active Approach to Interrupt the Worry Cycle”.

As we all learn how to be our best selves, children and adults alike, we welcome the chance to converse further with you about these topics and partner in helping your children grow in positive ways, every day.

The Pike School is an independent, coed, day school for Pre-K through ninth grade in Andover, Massachusetts. Visit pikeschool.org to learn more about Pike – and visit our blog for more thought leadership. To learn more about admission to The Pike School, visit our Admission page

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