What is social-emotional development and why is it important?
Social and emotional development refers to how children start to understand who they are, what they are feeling and what to expect when interacting with others*. Amity International School Amsterdam views this as a key role of schools, especially since they support international students from around the world moving to The Netherlands. Social-emotional development allows children to:
● Form and sustain positive relationships
● Experience, manage and express emotions
● Explore and engage with the environment
The value of positive social and emotional development cannot be underestimated and influences a child’s self-confidence, empathy, ability to develop meaningful friendships, and a sense of value to those around him/her. A delayed or interrupted social and emotional development can negatively impact all other areas of development.
Social-emotional learning (SEL) at Amity Amsterdam
At Amity Amsterdam, we follow the IB* curriculum, incorporating Learner Profile traits which we tie into social-emotional learning within all classrooms, for all students. The goal of an IB education is to provide a holistic program designed to build not only knowledge and skills but concepts, character and a sense of connection to the global and local community. Learner Profile traits and the Approaches to Learning (ATLs) are developed in integrated classroom activities, so while students are learning maths, writing, reading or working on units of inquiry, the students are simultaneously building character consciously shaping their interactions with others and reflecting on their own development as a learner and global citizen.
Our school implements specific SEL curriculums for classes, small groups, and individual students, tailored to their specific needs or skill deficits. A favourite curriculum we use is Superflex, from Social Thinking, which teaches children flexible thinking strategies using a superhero theme. Another great example is “How Does My Engine Run?”, which we use to support students in integrating their feelings with body-awareness and interpersonal skills.
For individual students, we write individualized education programs (IEPs) outlining goals and support towards building specific skills. This can be focused on social-emotional skills depending on the particular needs of each child. In addition, we have implemented staff-wide training on how to support students exhibiting challenging behaviours and facilitate external service providers at school to support children with specific individual SEL needs.
English as an Additional Language
For many of our students there is also a language barrier to contend with. Our English as an additional language (EAL) teachers are acutely aware of this and design their classes with this in mind, having small groups of students with peers who are in the same position as they are. They focus on creating a welcoming space for students so that they feel happy, comfortable and confident. This is done by fun and engaging activities with a focus on social language that is essential for them during their settling in period. They also try to promote the children's home languages as much as possible as this is an integral part of identity and encourages students to translate new vocabulary into their home language and to make connections between English and their home language. As a school, we recognise the needs of our EAL children and adapt our teaching, activities and approach to making our EAL children feel safe and supported in their classroom.
As an International School, the Amity Community are mostly expats, a fact which brings its own unique challenges in terms of social and emotional developments, and in which we are proud to say we consider ourselves experts. One extremely helpful and informative event which we held this year was to host the Expat Kids Club, to speak to families specifically about supporting their children through global transitions. In addition to practical strategies on how to support children before, during, and after a move, the session touched on child development (including attachment and grief), “third culture kids” (TCKs*), and how to know when to seek professional help if your child is struggling to settle in. The feedback from families was overwhelmingly positive.
Our teachers and staff always make themselves available to parents to discuss any particular needs or queries, so please feel free to reach out if you would like more detail on Amity’s commitment to social-emotional learning.
*Source: helpmegrowmn.org What is social-emotional development?
**Amity International School Amsterdam is a candidate school for the PYP and MYP pursuing authorisation as an IB World School. IB World Schools share a common philosophy – a commitment to high-quality, challenging, international education. Only schools authorised by the IB Organisation can offer any of its four academic programmes: the Primary Years Programme (PYP), the Middle Years Programme (MYP), the Diploma Programme (DP), or the or the Career-related Programme (CP). Candidate status gives no guarantee that authorization will be granted.
For further information about the IB and its programmes visit www.ibo.org Career-related Programme (CP). Candidate status gives no guarantee that authorisation will be granted.
***Third Culture Kids (or TCKs) is a term coined by US sociologist Ruth Hill Useem in the 1950s, for children who spend their formative years in places that are not their parents’ homeland.