Fifth grade students at Madison Central School have been piloting a new social and emotional learning initiative with a multi-week program held during their lunch periods. The students have been working to optimize their emotional health through the new “Chill and Chat” program. The program was hosted by MCS Counselor Jennifer Buckley and Site Coordinator Michele Bowen of Connected Community Schools.
Mrs. Nolan’s class was the first to participate, with members of her class rotating through three weeks of activities.
Students explored how to best handle emotional moments in their lives by developing, identifying, and brainstorming coping skills.
To demonstrate those coping skills, the students participated in a virtual conflict resolution escape room, where they had to collaboratively solve puzzles and riddles that reinforced methods of conflict resolution. The activity also presented the chance to utilize those skills in real time.
They group also created a positivity poster with messages and quotes for one another.
Both Buckley and Bowen were pleased with how the students participated and engaged with the content of the program.
“They were very open and willing to participate,” Buckley said. “They all had input when it came to coping skills that may work for them. They gave each other ideas. They also worked together well on the ‘escape room’ that we did.”
“I was really impressed with how the students participated, listened and engaged in all of the activities,” Bowen said.
With the activities intended to challenge and inspire students towards personal growth, Buckley was quick to offer a reminder that the process doesn’t end with this program, and her hope that students will continue to make lifelong progress in this arena.
“I think these are skills that everyone can use throughout their entire lives,” Buckley said. “It’s coping skills, and handling conflict with friends or peers or coworkers. It’s also resiliency and overcoming challenges in our lives.”
Going forward, the plan is to expand this program to additional classrooms and grade levels.