December 4, 2014

What Every School Can Learn From Preschools

Clifford the Big Red Dog (or is it Associate Head of
School Mandy Stepanovsky?) reading to preschoolers
Listening. Sharing. Following directions. Making friends. Managing big emotions. Planning for the future.

Mastery of all these skills, as well as more traditional academics, will play a big role in determining success later in our children’s lives.

Two different people sent me an NPR article this week entitled: What Every School Can Learn From Preschools which discuss the importance of social emotional learning in all of our nation’s elementary schools, not just our preschools.

One of our new Friends’ School parents sent along this note with the article:

“I thought you might find this article from NPR interesting - it discusses the importance of teaching social skills in elementary schools, not just preschools.  We are thrilled that this is exactly what Friends' School is already doing, and it's a big part of why we chose Friends'.  So wonderful to be at a school that has long-recognized the importance of social/emotional learning as well!”

It is always rewarding to receive emails like these, that confirm that our mission and practice here at Friends’ is a great fit for our families. It is even more rewarding to hear, on a national scale, that the wider world is coming to an understanding that what we are doing at Friends’ is essential.

In an era when the public schools have recently announced an increase in the number of hours that elementary school students will spend on standardized tests, our teachers realize the importance of so much more.

Our teachers understand the need for developing strong skills in reading, writing, science, and math.  However, they also understand that a great percentage of the jobs that our current preschool and elementary children will hold as adults do not yet exist.  We need to prepare our children for a complex global economy where interpersonal skills, creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking are just as important.

A great body of research tells us so.  The researchers in this NPR article suggests that parents should  “hold entire schools accountable for creating atmospheres that instill or support these qualities.”

I am proud that Friends’ does exactly that.

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