Lower School
Social Emotional Learning

Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is critical to the development of Lower School students. SEL, which teaches students how to regulate their emotions, connect effectively with others, and use and develop their strengths, has been linked with significant, positive outcomes for students, including greater resilience, well-being, happiness, improved academic grades, and decreased emotional reactivity and stress.

HAFTR Lower School’s SEL initiative, spearheaded by HAFTR Lower School’s Guidance Team, focuses on four pillars. Students are provided with programming, workshops, and activities on the school-wide, classroom, and individual levels to ensure that they internalize and use the information they are taught to maximize their happiness and success.
Positive Psychology teaches students how to identify, use and develop their key strengths to become happier, more resilient, and more successful. All Lower School students will engage in an activity where they identify their key strengths and will be provided with opportunities throughout the school year to use their strengths and to reflect on their experiences taking advantage of their character strengths and virtues.

Positive Psychology has also identified how doing acts of kindness for another actually helps one feel happier, more socially connected, and more effective. To that end, HAFTR Lower School implements the Pay It Forward Program, where two students are nominated each week to perform an act of kindness. A photograph of the student’s act of kindness is displayed in the lower School building, and students then nominate another classmate to perform an act of kindness for the following week. In this way, by the end of the year, each student (and faculty member) has done a kindness that they have selected, strengthening the bonds between classmates, peers, and the greater community.

Mindfulness is another key strategy and tool that will be taught to students throughout the school year. Students today are increasingly stressed by the many demands placed on them. Research has shown that when children and teens learn how to effectively deal with a great number of demands in a calm and mindful manner, they feel less “stressed out” and become more resilient. Mindfulness is an emotional state that can be taught, cultivated, and developed through the use of mindfulness exercises, practice, and activities. Students will be taught easy-to-use mindfulness exercises that they can quickly utilize when feeling anxious or upset to calm themselves down.
Utilizing tools and strategies from the teachings of Ross Greene and the Yale Center For Emotional Intelligence (RULER, Mood Meter, etc.), students will learn skills to label, express, and healthily regulate their emotions using research-based frameworks.
Digital Citizenship refers to the appropriate and responsible use of technology. As technology is a pervasive part of our students’ lives, they are taught about the many benefits of technology and how to utilize it appropriately. Students are also taught about things that are safe and appropriate to post online and those that are not. Disinhibition on the internet, where people say and do things on the internet that they would not do in real life, is also discussed, and students are taught strategies to combat this prevalent trend. Students in each grade engage in developmentally appropriate workshops to discuss the appropriate use of technology.
As students grow, it is important they develop an understanding of how to stand up for themselves and feel confident saying “no” when they are faced with situations or relationships that make them uncomfortable. Students in each grade learn how to identify and stand up for their own personal comfort level through psychoeducation, modeling, and role-play

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