Book of the Month

Social Emotional Learning skills are the strategies used to manage our big feelings. Being able to work with other people. The ability to problem-solve. And the ability to develop healthy relationships. I believe they are just as important as the core subjects of reading, writing and math. We want our children to be able to regulate their emotions, get along with other people, make good choices, and be good friends. When these skills are taught and supported, our students are able to be successful in and outside of the classroom.

 

Each month our school will be focusing on a different social emotional learning skill. We will highlight that skill using a Book of the Month.

June 2022 Book of the Month

OPTIMISTIC THINKING

"Last Stop on Market Street " by Matt De La Pena

(If you do not have access to the book, you can search and view it on YouTube or click on the title above)

Optimistic thinking or positive thinking, is the practice of seeing good in any given situation.
Helen Keller once noted that, “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” The belief that things will turn out well is what motivates effort and encourages us to keep trying. After all, if we truly believed that our efforts are wasted and that things are going to end badly, why would we make the effort? We want our children to have an attitude of confidence, hopefulness, and positive thinking about themselves and their future.

We have all struggled with challenges at some point in our lives, and maintaining a sense of hopefulness and optimism is critical to persevere. The sacrifices that we make are inspired by the belief that they will make a positive difference for our families, our communities, and our country. Fortunately, optimistic thinking is a skill that can be taught. Below is a simple strategy to promote a child’s or teen’s sense of optimism.

Strategy: Even if

The need for social distancing filled our children’s lives with disappointment, and they are experiencing loss and frustration. “Even if” can help ease some of that disappointment. The essential idea of “Even if” is to encourage children to reframe the loss as an opportunity. Instead of focusing on the negative, we can help them see the positives in the situation. For instance, even if they can’t have their friends over for their birthday party, they can still have a virtual birthday party. In fact, with a virtual party even friends and relatives who live far away who would not have been able to attend an in-person party can participate! Encourage children to think, “Even if I can’t... I can still...” With enough practice, this can become a life-long skill to help children deal positively with disappointment.

For elementary students - it may help to focus on what fun things they can still do with their friends. In addition to virtual parties and sleepovers, they can also learn a new game to play with friends or family. For example, even if I can’t go to my
friend’s house, we can still play Words with Friends together. Or, even if we can’t go see a movie, I can still play my favorite board game with my family.

For middle school students - learning a new skill like cooking (even if I can’t go to my favorite Mexican restaurant, I can still learn to make tacos at home) can be fun and rewarding

May 2022 Book of the Month

Social Awareness

 

"I Walk With Vanessa" by Kerascoet

(If you do not have access to the book, you can search and view it on YouTube or click on the title above)

Social awareness is showing understanding and empathy for others. Empathy is being able to recognize the way someone else feels and to be respectful of that feeling.

 

I Walk with Vanessa explores the feelings of helplessness and sadness when a new girl at school Vanessa, is treated badly by a classmate. And how when one classmate, using empathy, sees this happening and steps in with a single act of kindness that leads to everyone in the school joining in to help Vanessa.

 

How can you learn to be more empathetic?

  • First start by trying to imagine how the you would feel if you were the other person. Ask yourself “How would I feel in this situation?

 

  • You can use clues to understand how they are feeling. What emotion do they show on their face? What is their body language showing? What are they saying?

 

  • Then you can be a good listener by making eye contact with them, do not interrupt when they are talking and asking a question to show you understand.

 

  • Lastly, be sure to respond to them in a kind and respectful way.

 

Here are some questions to ask after reading I walk with Vanessa.

1. Have you ever read a book without words before? Is it easy to tell how people feel only by looking at the pictures?

2. How would you feel if you were a new kid in school? How does Vanessa feel?

3. At the end of her first day has Vanessa made any new friends?

4. What happens between the boy in the striped shirt and Vanessa? Did anyone see or hear it happen? Have you ever heard or seen anything like that before?

5. How does Vanessa feel after the boy was mean to her? Look at the bottom right picture. How does the girl who saw it happen feel?

6. Does the girl in the yellow dress stay quiet and do nothing? How do her friends feel when she tells them what she saw? How does that show empathy? What is empathy? It's not feeling bad for someone, but with them.

7. Did the mean words the boy in the striped shirt said to Vanessa only hurt her? Who else was hurt? Have you ever been hurt by mean words that were said to someone else?

8. Does the girl in the yellow dress let her bad feelings go and move on? What does she do when Vanessa's hurt stays with her? Does she give up?

9. When Vanessa is home alone, sad, is she really alone?

10. In the morning, the girl in the yellow dress has an idea. What do you think she's going to do?

11. How do you think Vanessa feels when she knows she's not alone anymore? Is it hard to hold someone's hand and stand by their side? Does it make a big difference?

12. How does Vanessa feel when more people join? How do all the people feel being together?

13. Look at the boy in the striped shirt. Is he going to be mean to Vanessa anymore? Why not?

14. Does Vanessa have friends at the beginning of her second day?