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Eastside embraces emotional learning
Teacher Tasia Handy enjoys coloring during a recent in-service for Warren County Schools. The activity, while fun for all ages, can have a calming effect on children and is part of social emotional learning (SEL). The program offers students critical foundations for academic learning such as coping with anger and stress. Teachers and counselors were provided a session to expose them to the benefits of the program.

Social emotional learning could be making its way to Warren County Schools. 

“We are trying to help students recognize how they are feeling and ways to calm themselves when needed,” said Shawn Palombo, counselor at Eastside School.

Social emotional learning (SEL) is a positive youth development framework that refers to building skills needed to recognize and manage emotions, develop care and concern for others, make responsible decisions, establish and maintain positive relationships, and handle interpersonal situations effectively. These capabilities are considered critical foundations for academic learning and for a person’s long-term personal and professional success.

Eastside School has adopted the SEL program and it will be taught to students in the upcoming school year. 

Palombo says the program works by offering different training exercises such as yoga which has been shown to improve focus, self-acceptance and positive mental health in children, and story time where students are read books such as “My Mouth is a Volcano” that takes an empathetic approach to the habit of interrupting and teaches children a witty technique to help them manage their rambunctiousness.

“We set up stations and spend 20 minutes at each station on a rotation,” said Palombo. “As students move from station to station, they learn critical foundations.”

The benefits of SEL include the ability to: 

• Cope with anger and stress

• Express emotions appropriately

• Lessen power struggles and resolve conflicts constructively and collaboratively 

• Give positive feedback to others

• Critically think to make good decisions and choices

• Develop effective listening and communication skills rather than debate with others 

• Act according to their values, not their emotions. 

During a recent in-service training session for Warren County Schools, the program was unveiled to other counselors and teachers throughout the school system in an effort to expand into other schools. Among others, stations included art, drawing, yoga, Zumba, and story time.

“They spent 20 minutes at each station to get a good idea of the activities offered and to relax themselves,” said Palombo. “As a school counselor, I teach many lessons during the year over SEL topics. I don’t know if other schools are planning to use this, but when I brought the idea to my principal, Dr. Carol Prater, she was all in on it. Very supportive. Students of all ages are dealing with more and more anxiety today. We want to supply our students with way to cope.”

Warren County Schools go back into session for the 2019-20 school year this Wednesday, Aug. 7.