Educating students, parents and staff members about social and emotional learning to help kids thrive in the classroom and beyond is the goal of a new committee in the Keller school district.
A group of teachers, administrators, counselors, parents and students met Jan. 31 to focus on what social and emotional skills they want kids to gain.
Helping kids cope with stress, develop “grit” — defined as sticking with something when it becomes difficult — and relate better with others are some of the primary attributes participants seek to instill in children to combat the growing problems of depression and disengagement.
“Some of our kids get some of this instruction at home,” said Shannon Jenkins, elementary intervention counselor for Keller schools. “Other kiddos are coming to us behind the eight ball.”
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The committee will meet a few more times over the next several months to develop a framework for lessons and programs.
Adding social and emotional components to the curriculum “will benefit all kids,” Jenkins said.
Keller is just one of many school districts locally and nationally that are targeting behavioral problems by developing programs and curriculum.
More than 100 people signed up for the Keller district committee.
Britt Piburn, a Keller mom of two district students, said she wanted to participate to help kids learn to be kind to one another.
“Every child has a story,” Piburn said. “Every child is important, and we need to help children understand and find compassion.”
Her son Dax Piburn, 10 and a fifth-grader at Bear Creek Intermediate School, said he hopes kids can learn “to do good in the world.”
Educators see the evidence of what happens in the classroom when kids get overwhelmed.
“If their social and emotional lives are not in order, they can’t learn,” said Maria Collins, assistant principal at Hidden Lakes Elementary School.
Counselor Stephen Smith, who works at Keller Harvel Elementary, said everyone — adults included — could benefit from developing better self-management, communication and relationship skills.
“I think we’re seeing so many needs right now,” Smith said. “Parents need to know how to talk to their kids; the same thing with teachers.”