In a society where texting is the preferred form of communication by the middle school and teen generations, Fairview/Miss Jewell Elementary School students are getting a lesson in social graces at an early age.
School counselor Amanda Brown implemented new social skills lessons for kindergarten and first-grade students. The lessons are from the SMART Kids curriculum, part of the school’s Safe and Civil Schools/CHAMPS initiative.
The lessons cover many social skills such as greetings, looking and listening, following directions, polite requests, accepting, disagreeing and problem-solving. The students get to look forward to a graduation from the program at the end of the lesson.
“For a lot of students, this is their first interaction with others who are not related to them,” Brown said. “It is imperative that we teach students how to function with other people appropriately.”
Brown added two aspects to the curriculum: At the end of each lesson, the students create their own social goals, specifically in which areas they want to improve.
“Even our kindergarten students are thrilled to make their goals each week on what they want to get better at,” Brown said. “Teachers join in and create their own goals as well to model this important skill.”
The second aspect Brown added was a progress chart where students fill in the next rung in the ladder before writing their next set of goals. The process also gives them a sense of achievement.
“Our campus-needs-assessment data reflected students in kindergarten and first grade struggled the most with social skills concepts,” Brown said. “They normally adjusted by second grade, but they still struggled. Our thinking was, if we make a large impact in kindergarten and first grades with teaching social skills, they will have better success in the higher grades.”
Fairview/Miss Jewell Elementary first-grade teacher Joann Mendez said the school culture and climate are just as important as our family culture and climate.
“A brand new school year was the perfect time to begin implementation and practice of not just classroom routines and procedures but also social and emotional skills our students need to help them build those relationships in our school community,” Mendez said.
The curriculum is collaborative with units of five lessons each. Brown teaches the introductory lesson and the final lesson. Classroom teachers teach the remaining three lessons. They also post the posters from each unit in their classrooms for student reference. The goal is then to move from weekly lessons to monthly lessons with every classroom. Having completed the third week of lessons, teachers and staff report noticeable and positive results.