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Holmes cluster celebrates SEL with families

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“I think parents and students found the circle question, ‘What are you most proud of?’ to be a very enjoyable moment for honest sharing. It was touching to see so much pride in one room. I heard parents telling their children how proud they were of creativity, ability to make great choices, and even being an inventor. Children were beaming with pride as their parents spoke to their strengths. I hope attendees took away the importance of communication and emotional expression within homes, schools, and community.”

–Dr. Katie Ahsell, CCSD59 Executive Director of Student Growth and Equity

On Thursday, October 19, the Holmes cluster of schools, which includes John Jay, Forest View, Juliette Low, and Holmes, came together to facilitate the first Social Emotional Learning Parent Information Night.

The building principals collaboratively planned the event with the goal of not only showing parents CCSD59’s framework for teaching SEL, but also experiencing it firsthand. Parents started with a mini-lesson and then took part in SEL activities that students experience regularly in their schools, including circle keeping, team building, and others.

Not only were the event activities informative but fun as well. Some of the team-building challenges that parents, students, and staff participated in together included passing a hula hoop around a group circle while holding hands (relying on the help of partners to get through), working to build a cup pyramid using string harnesses, coloring exercises, and more.

Dr. Ahsell said SEL skills are an important focus area for a well-rounded education and that practicing them both in and out of school is very important.

“Social emotional skills mirror the most desirable skills of the workplace; creativity, problem-solving, and communication skills,” she said. “When families work with staff to teach, practice, and reinforce these skills, students learn them faster and are more likely to apply them across settings.”

She added that additional benefits of the event included the opportunity to build new relationships and allow elementary students to see their future junior high school.

“Having the schools come together gave an opportunity for new community bonds to be formed and for elementary students to get a great first impression of the junior high they may attend in the future.”

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