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Wordsunspoken 03-01-2020 11:03 AM

SEL in Schools and Parent Partnership
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As “education is a shared responsibility of educators and families,” it is vital that schools work collaboratively with the parents to support the needs of the students to their utmost potential. Since I work in an inter-agency program that focuses on supporting students’ mental health challenges, in particular, anxiety, the implementation of SEL initiatives at the school and parent level is key to the successes of the students in the program. We use Zones of Regulation in our program to help students identify their different feeling states, how anxiety feels like in their body, and different strategies to navigate within the zones. We encourage teachers to also use this program in their classroom with all students (more and more teachers are doing so; I really like how in some classrooms different colour cups are on the student’s desks to help them identify their zones). In addition, one of the key successes to our program is the wrap-around approach that involves a Mental Health Counselor, the school team, parents, and the child all implementing and following the mental health plan. Once the student is dismissed from the school environment, it is vital that the parent carry on the SEL programming at home. In cases where parents are able to follow the mental health plan and use similar language and consistent routines, the student is able to successfully cope with his/her mental health challenges. On the contrary, mental health plans are unsuccessful when there is not a complete follow through of the plan from the school and/or home. To this end, “schools and families have essential roles to play in promoting children’s positive development and academic performance. When educators and parents work together as partners, they create important opportunities for children to develop social, emotional, and academic competencies” (p. 1).

Moreover, it is vital to create shared leadership where “the participation of parents is regular, two-way, and meaningful communication involving student academic learning and other school activities, including ensuring that parents play an integral role in assisting their child’s learning; parents are encouraged to be actively involved in their child’s education at school; and parents are full partners in their child’s education and are included, as appropriate, in decision-making to assist in the education of their child” (p. 2). Additionally, as my current position focuses on support planning with the parents, school, and child all playing equal roles, I really enjoyed some of the strategies in this articles and would like to either implement them into my own practice and also share them with the teachers I work with. These include:

• Learn more about the children and families in your classroom
• Create positions within the school that are DIRECTLY SPECIFICALLY FOCUSED on SEL (and give teachers the time to learn and implement the use of this knowledge)
• Have children and parents identify SEL goals and create a skill chart to record how SEL skills are being incorporated at home
• School-wide focus and implementation on SEL and provide professional development training
• Parent info night re: SEL knowledge
• Home to school communication, ex: journal etc
• Focus on the successes
• Provide diverse and ongoing involvement opportunities for families

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