SEL and HIB Topic of Discussion at SAIL Parent Academy

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Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) and Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying (HIB) were the focus of the first Student Academic Intervention and Learning (SAIL) Parent Academy of 2018/2019 on Tuesday night.

Parents and students from Franklin and Nixon Elementary Schools in Roxbury Township started the evening off with Taco Tuesday catered by Roxbury’s Food Services department, Maschio’s. Following dinner and dessert, parents and students split off. Children went on to do fun supervised crafts and activities while their parents went to class.

These families are afforded this opportunity through Title I funding. This funding is based on the number of students enrolled in the free and reduced lunch programs.

Kelly Freund, SAIL program coordinator and Franklin and Nixon technology teacher, arranged for the two school counselors to kick off the parent portion. Erik Swanson from Nixon School and Gail LaCosta from Franklin School covered the ABCs of HIB which included aspects of the law, how HIBster works, and the differences between bullying and conflict. By the end of their presentation, it seemed that the parents grasped the concept between the two.

Freund shared, “I think the parents really appreciated hearing from their school counselors first hand on the differences between bullying and conflict. I think it cleared things up for them.”

This segued into the second portion of the evening. The primary presenter, Teresa LaScala, shared her philosophy on positive discipline, experiences, perceptions, beliefs, and behaviors to help parents maximize their child’s success through this social and emotional learning. LaScala is a Certified Positive Discipline Facilitator, lead trainer, and author who provides parent workshops and trainings.

To help understand how to implement positive discipline, LaSala asked parents what challenges face children today. After compiling that list, she asked parents what skills they wanted their children to possess as they get older. This list along with the characteristics of positive discipline overlapped. “Characteristics children develop when involved in a model based on mutual respect and cooperation include responsibility, self-discipline, cooperation, acceptance of self and others, interest in learning, open-mindedness, problem-solving skills, respect for self and others, compassion, patience, honesty, passion for life, among others.”

LaSala added, “The best tool a parent has is to model the behavior you want your children to do, see, or feel. Monkey see monkey do.”

She also touched on how families needed to create boundaries, revisit them when needed, and how children need respect and freedom in order to learn. One of the posters she brought with her stated, “Tell me…I forget. Teach me…I remember. Involve me…I learn.” LaSala emphasized that children should be a part of the decision-making process to help empower them instead of just being told what to do. By learning these skills, the hope is to help minimize anxiety and create a more stress-free atmosphere.

Dr. Chuck Seipp, Roxbury’s Assistant Superintendent shared his perspective as a parent and administrator on this valuable topic stating, “It was nice to hear from an industry expert about strategies that parents can use to support their children with handling stress and dealing with emotions. Too often, as adults, we do not recognize the immense amount of stress that our children endure, but we were able to complete an activity with Ms. LaSala that helped us experience it quickly.”

Adding, “Our schools are working to adjust to the current challenges that our children face through the infusion of SEL programming at the elementary level, freedom and flexibility in academic programming through the middle school, and the expansion of career-ready experiences for high school students. Momentum on initiatives such as Mindfulness and self-care, Portrait of a Graduate, and Tech Free Days will support meaningful decision-making for the future as well as seek to support student and staff stress levels.”

Freund echoed those sentiments by adding, “In today’s overbooked technological world, raising kids can be very hard. In these SAIL academies, we don’t just want to focus on academic learning but also the social and emotional well-being of the child.”

The district’s purpose of holding SAIL Parent Academics is to educate parents on the things going on in their child’s elementary school and education. These academics were designed to make parents feel comfortable and welcome in their child’s school and to provide help for them in the easiest and most convenient ways possible. The district strives to remove any possible obstacles from participating including having translator services available for our non-English speaking families, free childcare for not just the child in the elementary school but for any age, as well as providing a hot meal.

Each child that attended received an age-appropriate Kindness Kit that included two books on kindness, a mindfulness journal, kindness stickers and pencils, along with a squishy ball and wristband. Parents too walked away with a deck of Positive Discipline Parenting Tools, cards to improve parenting skills.

The next three academies will be parent/child nights where families will participate together and cover how Healthy Living Feeds the Brain, Pizza & Paint, and Math & Movement. Information regarding the upcoming dates will be shared at these two schools as the dates approach.

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