There is a great emphasis in education on boosting academic achievement in American schools. News articles and reports focus on learning standards, the core curriculum, high stakes testing and the need for constant improvement in teaching and learning.
Recently, however, it has been refreshing to see more emphasis on SEL - Social Emotional Learning.
At HOD, we believe that if academic skills are the basic building blocks of a successful education, then social emotional learning is the solid foundation upon which those skills are built.
SEL has two important components. One is partnering with parents to teach our young students social skills. SEL programs help to teach children the fundamental social skills that they need to effectively and ethically negotiate their way through life. These skills include recognizing and managing emotions, caring for others, establishing positive relationships, making responsible decisions and handling challenging situations in life. Here at HOD, we have been proponents of SEL since we opened our doors in January 1994. That was when we began participating in the Reach Out to Schools Social Competency Program/Open Circle Curriculum.
HOD was one of the first schools to become involved with this program at the Stone Center of Wellesley College as a whole school initiative. What we learned soon became the cornerstone of all learning at the H. Olive Day School.
Each week, students in kindergarten, grades one and two participate in Open Circle lessons in the classroom. We are proud of our long affiliation with the Open Circle program and happy to report that Open Circle is rated as a Select SEL Program by the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning and is listed in the U.S. Department of Education's Expert Panel Guidebook of Exemplary and Promising Safe, Disciplined, and Drug-Free Schools Programs.
Studies have shown that students who receive SEL instruction have more positive attitudes about school and higher achievement than students who do not. We believe that to be true at HOD!