Our Social Emotional after-school program is designed as a fun educational experience where students learn to improve their social skills in guided activities that encourage students to engage with each other and adults in positive and proactive ways.  We combine the guided Social Emotional Learning (SEL) practice with hands-on STEM activities during the second part of each session.  STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. These activities are designed with two purposes in mind.  First, they act as a venue for students to put into practice the social skills from the first part.  Secondly, the STEM activities are an opportunity for students to explore their minds and imaginations outside of a formal classroom in ways that will enhance their total education.  We have experts from these fields who share their expertise and inspiration.  This gives students an opportunity to benefit from the guidance of volunteer experts while enjoying time for free exploration of the subject areas.  The program is specifically designed to place children in a collaborative space that encourages both groups to learn from each other.  Children gain many valuable social skills while working together.  Some of these benefits are listed below:

 

  • Personal friendships are built on shared interest because the interest provides a foundation for getting to know the other person. Personal friends share their thoughts and feelings as well as experiences. Once the friendship is built, children learn each other’s communication style, begin to stick up for each other, answer each other’s questions honestly, help each other when there is a need, and enjoy spending time together.

 

  • Communication is important because it gives children an avenue to express themselves and their ideas while learning from others in the same way. Communication involves the use of verbal and non-verbal skills to express oneself and understand others.  It requires clear speech and body language, facial expressions and gestures.

 

  • Assertiveness: Children benefit from training that emphasizes the importance of assertiveness.  Assertive behavior improves learning potential because assertive students are more likely to ask questions, take responsibility for their choices and decisions, and gain leadership experience.  

 

  • Self-advocacy is when children let others know what makes them happy, when they don’t understand something, need something, or are uncomfortable. Many children struggle with this skill but learn quickly with practice.

 

  • Personal Responsibility means understanding your role as a teammate and friend. It is accepting the responsibility for one’s own words and actions. It is also important to hold oneself accountable for mistakes, errors, or short-comings when they arise.

 

  • Leadership: when a person develops a strong sense of personal responsibility, it is natural for leadership traits to develop as well. Children who develop the confidence of a leader will benefit throughout their lifetime.

 

  • Team Learning: keeping up with and learning the lessons embedded in the curriculum is crucial. Learning as part of a team allows children to fit in more comfortably with their family, friends, and communities.  The ability to be a strong collaborative partner or teammate opens doors that allow young people to be all that they want to be in the world.