Research indicates that social and emotional learning starts at home, as parents, caregivers, and families are children’s first models of behavior and social interaction. As such, they can be important advocates for SEL (Miller 2015). Fly Five’s School-to-Home Connection brings SEL from the classroom into the home. It provides a structure for families to develop SEL skills together. By extending SEL into the home, we send a message to students that building their C.A.R.E.S. competence is not relegated to the classroom but is a lifelong practice that requires sustained attention in all aspects of their lives. Through developmentally-appropriate and engaging activities, students practice their SEL with their families and in their community.
By building a strong bridge between the school and the home, Fly Five’s School-to-Home Connection reinforces the importance of SEL and provides a shared language for a child’s entire educational community to speak. The School-to-Home Connection encourages SEL practice in all contexts of a child’s life and gives parents the skills they need, even if they are unfamiliar with SEL, to help their child’s SEL skills grow (McClelland, Tominey, Schmitt & Duncan 2017).
Each week, teachers can send an email or print a copy of the School-to-Home Connection toolkit, which is jam-packed with developmentally appropriate, collaborative activities aligned with the week’s lesson. The toolkit, currently available in English and Spanish with Arabic debuting in summer 2022, delivers the following activities:
Dinner Discussion offers parents and guardians thoughtful questions and relevant tips for a guided conversation with their child about the SEL theme of the week. The open-ended questions allow students to think deeply about why their SEL skills are important and draw conclusions based on their experiences. The tips give parents and guardians clear, encouraging language to foster a meaningful discussion and positively reinforce a student’s classroom learning in the context of the home.
Nighttime Reflections are a series of prompts that support SEL growth for a variety of learning styles. For younger students, the Nighttime Reflections offer an interactive activity or a read-aloud, which provides space to make connections and explore real-life challenges through guided play. For older students, the Nighttime Reflection prompts can be reflected upon as a journal entry, a guided discussion, or a reflect-and-sketch. Each of these activities gives students the chance to reflect on their experiences and deepen their understanding of their SEL skills with the flexibility of using the form that will best support their learning.
The Art Activity provides students a chance to explore their SEL skills in a fun and creative way. The projects range from activities that help students express themselves to suggestions for creating homemade tools to help them stay focused and accountable. Each Art Activity needs only a few basic supplies and a little bit of space and time for students to begin their creative exploration.
The activities in Community Connections help to broaden a student’s perspective and understanding of how to be a contributing member of a community. Through the explorations in Community Connections, students practice key skills like working with others to complete a challenging task and taking the initiative to solve a problem in the community. Students will expand their understanding not only of how their SEL skills can be applied in a larger context but also of how their actions have the potential to positively impact their environment.
SEL Saturday encourages students to take the lead on planning projects like community initiatives or personal challenges to help them grow their SEL skills in a larger context. These activities are broad in scope and give students the chance to think creatively, collaborate with the adults in their lives, and practice researching and taking actionable steps to execute their ideas. The fruits of their SEL Saturday labor will allow students to witness how using their SEL skills in a project-focused, sustained manner can have a positive impact for themselves as well as for their family and community.