On the Journey
news reel: stories of People, places, and learning AT Aspen Country Day School
Parents, if you have attended any of the recent parent "Coffee + Conversation" series this fall, you have heard from Lower School Counselor Mary Stokes about a longstanding Aspen Country Day program called class meeting. What is it? As one parent recently summed it up, "personal and interpersonal development."
Class Meeting, a key part of the social-emotional learning curriculum at ACDS, happens once per week at a specific time in each and every Lower School homeroom, Kindergarten to Fifth Grade. Mary also brings the class meeting format into PreKindergarten to introduce the youngest students to this valuable experience that speaks to our Country Day motto: de amicitia, in the spirit of friendship.
Activities in these weekly 45-minute periods range from mindfulness practices, to hands-on activities focusing on our school-wide monthly themes. The goal is to create a safe place for children to share what is on their minds and to practice self-awareness, social awareness, and relationship skills.
Here's more from Lower School Counselor Mary Stokes:
"I always open up class meeting with a mindful moment, and then a chance to share. Maybe as classmates they have something they want to work out, a friendship issue, or they want to process something that happened. Lots of times, it's supportive: (a child will say), 'I want to thank so-and-so for helping me figure out that math problem, or someone was kind to me on the bus.'"
"It is pretty amazing to watch how they have learned to use that class meeting open time -- to advocate for a friend, and to speak up for each other."
"At each class meeting, there is a project we're going to work on. For instance, making snowflakes and talking about what they have in common and also what makes each one unique."
"We work on using descriptive words for their relationships. For instance, not just saying, 'she's nice.' Well, how is she nice? Is she always there for you; what specific examples. This helps in their communication with each other."
"We will always be referencing the school's themes of each month; for instance, September is Cooperation; October is Cooperation, and gratitude in November. And also the school's core values of Character, Respect, Responsibility, Community, and Perseverance. So many of our learning activities will connect to those ideas."
"Each one of your children has participated in class meeting, and I get to witness some incredible self-discovery and moments of revelation. They are in these years of growing and changing right in the moment. Each child has his or her own moral compass, and they really are immersed in these years of growing and changing."
Wondering what the Middle School counterpart to Class Meeting is? Answer: the Advisory program in Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Grades. For more on social-emotional learning, including Advisory, at Aspen Country Day School, click here.