Administrator’s Corner: Growing a child’s social-emotional intelligence

Published 8:00 pm Friday, January 12, 2024

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Administrator’s Corner by Kristi Kenis

My name is Kristi Kenis, and I am the principal at Sibley Elementary School. With 24 years of experience working with students in grades K-12, as well as being a mother of two, I have come to learn and understand the vital role that constant communication can play in the growth of our children. Have you ever considered the impact of having regular, consistent, brief conversations with your child? These seemingly ordinary dialogues and routines with your children are not just moments in time but important building blocks that encourage trust, foster open communication and reinforce the foundation for your child’s social emotional intelligence. In an educational setting, social-emotional intelligences show in many different areas. Some are skills communicating effectively with adults and peers, working with groups of other students and controlling impulses. By recognizing the impact of these intentional conversations, you are actively contributing to the holistic development of your child, preparing them with essential skills that extend beyond the immediate environment and into our own community. Here are a couple things parents can do to cultivate and grow their own child’s emotional intelligence.

Kristi Kenis

Regular conversation at home can have a positive impact on children’s values, motivation, personal identity and self-esteem. Families can discuss their day and share news. I would often begin our family dinner conversations by asking, “What made you laugh today?” or “Tell me one thing you heard during math class.”

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Thinking outloud is another way to help your child build social-emotional intelligence. When your child hears your thinking process, it helps them understand how to deal with frustrations and problem solve situations. An example of how I would talk through a difficult situation is by stating what’s going on and possible solutions. “Oh look it’s raining. I’m disappointed we can’t go to the park. Let’s find some board games we can play.”

At Sibley Elementary School we are also working on our students social-emotional intelligence. We do this through a program called Second Step. This is a program designed for elementary schools and has specific focuses to assist every child with their social and emotional intelligences. The following are the areas students learn about throughout the school year.

Skills for learning: Students develop foundational skills that contribute to effective learning and academic success. This is learned through lessons on listening skills, focusing attention and using positive self talk.

Empathy: Students learn to understand and appreciate the feelings and perspectives of others. This is done through identifying feelings, understanding different points of view and showing compassion.

Emotion management: Children learn the skills to recognize, express and manage their emotions in healthy ways. Students learn strategies that help them self-regulate and calm their emotions, problem solve with others and manage feelings.

Problem solving: Students develop effective problem solving skills for navigating interpersonal conflicts and making sound decisions. Students do this by knowing how to identify problems, generating solutions and making responsible choices.

Social-emotional intelligence is a vital aspect to our children’s overall development both at home and in the educational setting. By incorporating simple yet meaningful conversations into daily routines, parents can positively impact their child’s values, motivation, personal identity and self-esteem. Sibley Elementary School is also committed to enhancing our student’s social emotional intelligence through regularly scheduled programs such as Second Step. Our investment together will serve as an impressive foundation for a resilient, empathetic and socially competent generation.

Kristi Kenis is the Sibley Elementary School principal.