Social Emotional Learning

Program & Curriculum

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) has been a hallmark of an Island School education since the school’s founding in 1977. We believe that social emotional learning is the foundation for all learning. Children must feel a strong sense of belonging in order to feel safe enough to take academic risks and make mistakes, both of which are essential to growth.

Our small size allows for our faculty and staff to authentically know each and every student. Additionally, social emotional learning is woven throughout the school day in all that we do. From daily morning meetings, to all-school Friday Forums, to mixed-grade reading buddies and learning buddies, many of the traditions and structures of The Island School are focused on intentionally supporting the healthy growth and development of elementary-aged children.

In addition to our intentional culture and structure, our Social Emotional Learning Coordinator uses a multi-tiered system of support in working with students:

  • teaching whole-class lessons weekly
  • facilitating small groups
  • meeting with students one-on-one

Several different curricula are used to best meet the needs of the varied ages and development levels of elementary learners. Research shows that Social Emotional Learning (SEL) has positive outcomes on learning, attendance, and focus, while reducing aggression, anxiety and other issues.

In Kindergarten and first grade, students learn The Zones of Regulation, created by Leah M. Kuypers, MA, Ed. OTR/L, and listen to body signals using The Interoception Curriculum by Kelly Mahlerr, OTD, OTR/L. These resources are designed to help students gain skills in self-regulation. Children identify the color-coded zone that they are in and learn strategies to change or maintain that zone.

In second through fifth grades, the SEL program incorporates topics from the Choose Love for Schools program, a comprehensive curriculum that supports, nurtures, and fosters the whole child. The program’s foundation focuses on the formula of Courage + Gratitude + Forgiveness + Compassion in Action = Choosing Love.

Each component of the Choose Love equation is taught for a quarter of the school year as a unit.  At the end of each Choose Love unit, students demonstrate their knowledge in a project. Some students choose to act out a skit, others draw a picture, some even write their own song!  It is truly a creative and personalized process for each student.

Finally, we seek and welcome a diverse student body. As a result, we also thoughtfully and intentionally teach the concepts of our diversity statement to ensure that children understand, appreciate and model the values of diversity, equity, inclusion and justice. We view these understandings as essential in developing the social and emotional well-being of children.

Through all of these efforts we weave together an intricate and intentional foundation from which children can learn and thrive.