Social & Emotional Learning

Research suggests that children who develop strong social skills—the ability to make friends, resolve disputes, work with others, and adapt to changing situations—are more likely to thrive in school, in their chosen careers, and throughout their lives. The understanding that social skills help a person navigate through life has always made intuitive sense. Recently, a more direct connection between social and emotional learning (SEL) and academic performance has been brought into prominence. Rather than taking time away from traditional academic subjects, SEL actually gives students the tools to engage with their school work and strive for academic success.

Each of our three academic divisions emphasizes age-appropriate social and emotional learning, and research shows that SEL works best when students begin at an early age. For our youngest learners, we introduce SEL through an emphasis on character awareness, character development, cooperation, and friendship.

The Lower School highlights one positive character trait each month. A word, such as ‘kindness,’ ‘stewardship’ or ‘gratitude’ is posted on the bulletin boards, and teachers help the students make that idea concrete—whether through a story they are reading in class, a teachable moment on the playground, or a discussion about something happening outside of school. By focusing on a specific character trait each month, teachers help students identify what ‘generosity’, ‘thoughtfulness,’ or ‘forgiveness’ looks like in a day-to-day context. Lower School Town Hall Meetings give students and teachers a chance to talk about character and reinforce the school’s core values. Teachers also incorporate aspects of the Caring School Community framework, designed by the Collaborative Classroom, a nonprofit organization that supports the academic, social, and emotional development of students.

"Social and emotional learning is simply part of our lives at GSB. It begins with welcoming and supportive teachers, with small classes, with a community that is inclusive and kind. When you place children in that kind of environment, they naturally develop positive habits and skills."

Division Director Kyle Armstrong

Our Philosophy

Our Lower School complements the developmental strengths of young learners, giving form to their innate desire to explore and discover the world around them.

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Physical Education in the Lower School

The Association for Physical Education maintains that high-quality PE fosters physical, moral, social, emotional, cultural, and intellectual development.

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