Feel Good, Do Good
focusing on social and emotional wellness
Movement breaks can be an opportunity for fresh air, to take a mask break and—when led by Dr. Lara Monasch, psychologist at Meadow Pond Elementary School—a time to blend empathy with physical activity! Her games ask students to step into another’s shoes, figure how that person might be feeling and respond.
In years prior, school social workers and psychologists would primarily see students who were identified as needing support. This year, it’s universal.
“All students are engaged in social and emotional learning,” said Dr. Michael Weschler, assistant principal of Increase Miller Elementary School. He’s been part of the team leading social-emotional wellness initiatives at Katonah-Lewisboro’s elementary level for the last decade. “It’s an opportunity for us to monitor and connect with students. A lot has happened since schools closed last year. Students need to have an opportunity to express how they feel.”
essential for learning and for life
“We're supporting core social-emotional skills of understanding and managing emotions, feeling and showing empathy for others, and setting and achieving goals,” said Jessica Fulton, a social worker at Katonah Elementary School. "The first skill in dealing with emotions is knowing what you are feeling."
Psychologists and social workers also get to know the remote-only students. “We help our at-home learners develop patience when classes don’t start on time and problem-solving strategies when they can’t access what they need on their computer,” said Dr. Monasch. “It’s important that they know there’s another adult out there that they can reach out to and talk to.”
Each elementary school is finding a way for clinicians to check in with children. Not only do students enjoy the social emotional wellness activities, they’re gaining tools that support their development as eager, curious and confident learners.
Increase Miller Elementary
“How are you feeling this morning?” Dr. Marlee Schwartz, the school psychologist, asked a kindergarten class. This started a conversation about emotions, conveying the message that it’s important for students to recognize, understand, label and express what they are feeling.
Dr. Schwartz led activities that supported students’ emotional literacy. They talked about feeling calm, thoughtful, playful and frustrated, and then played a guessing game that got everyone involved and having fun.
Surprised, frustrated, angry, happy … It’s hard to read each other’s emotions when masks cover half our faces! Jessica Fulton, School Social Worker at Katonah Elementary School, visited a fifth grader class to lead a mini workshop on this challenge. Students had fun expressing a feeling using just their eyes and body language while classmates tried to guess which emotion it was.
“We need to be patient with each other,” said Fulton. “We may need to use our words a bit more than usual to help communicate how we are feeling.”
Meadow Pond Elementary
Movement breaks can exercise a lot more than your legs when led by Dr. Monasch. After student-led moves to get the wiggles out, she posed a few dilemmas for the students to respond to, such as: What do you do when your younger brother goes into your room, even when you’ve asked him to please not do that?
As students suggest ways to handle the situation, their classmates vote with movement. If they agree, they reach up high. If they don’t, they twist to the ground. It’s a fun way to think about feelings and compassion and listen and respond to each other!