Sprinkling Kindness

SEL at Home -Jefferson Elementary- May 15, 2020

What is Social Emotional Learning?

Social Emotional Learning (SEL) is the process that helps children & adults to:

  • Understand & Regulate Emotions
  • Achieve Positive Goals
  • Feel & Show Empathy
  • Build & Maintain Positive Relationships
  • Make Responsible Decisions


Remember, the great thing about SEL is that there is no “right way" to teach it. You don’t have to worry about the “new way” to be a kind person or the "new way" to understand feelings. These are skills that children begin to develop when they are young, & continue to strengthen & build on throughout their lifetime. Please remember:

  • SEL at home is all about learning what works best for your child & family & this will look different for every family.
  • The key is building & maintaining a positive relationship & creating open, honest communication.

*This week's newsletter will focus on practicing gratitude*

Book of the Week

Our Book of the Week is… Splat Says Thank You! by Rob Scotton.

*Each week we will feature a book that teaches social emotional skills!*

Why Practicing Gratitude is Important

Practicing gratitude is an exercise for every day - not just Thanksgiving. It is an important concept at all times, but particularly even more relevant & important now. With all the grief & loss that we are collectively experiencing, it is enough to have us feeling down. Despite this, there is still goodness to be found - the "silver lining". Many would say that the silver lining in our current situation is that people are spending more time outdoors, families are spending quality time together that they ordinarily wouldn't have, & many people/communities are offering services, volunteering, & helping one another. Now more than ever, it's important to find the good & practice gratitude - it will help us better cope with the current challenges, make us more resilient, & provide us with many other benefits. Here are some of the additional benefits that practicing gratitude provides to our physical, mental, & emotional health:

  • Research shows that regularly practicing gratitude can increase our baseline happiness by 25%! Each person has a baseline of happiness - where we typically fall on a scale of happiness. There are many things that can increase our happiness for a short period of time. For example, a job promotion might be an event that makes you feel happy & excited. However, after the dust has settled, your happiness will drop back down to your baseline - the happiness from this event is fleeting... But it's just the opposite with practicing gratitude! Consistently practicing gratitude raises our baseline to make us happier long-term!
  • Practicing gratitude can be very grounding & helps us focus on the present moment. As we've mentioned previously, grounding strategies are one of the best techniques to use for anxiety. Anxiety has only been heightened amidst the pandemic, so staying grounded & turning our attention to the here-&-now by focusing on what we are grateful for can be helpful in a multitude of ways.
  • Health benefits from practicing gratitude include: lower blood pressure, stronger immune system, less aches & pains, better sleep - just to name a few!

Ways to Incorporate Gratitude into Your Home

There are many ways to bring practicing gratitude into your home & make it a family practice. See if you can make it part of your daily routine or schedule. For any of the activities listed below, drawing can be substituted for writing if your child is not yet writing on their own, or just would prefer drawing. Here are just a few examples to get you started:

  • Gratitude Tree - Print or draw a tree with no leaves, or you can collect a couple of sticks from outside & place them in a vase to use as your tree (see picture for example). Cut paper in the shape of leaves. Place the tree & blank leaves in a common area where everyone can see & it's easily accessible. Have everyone write something they are thankful for on the leaves & then hang them on the tree. Continue to add to the tree whenever you feel & having it prominently displayed can be a nice reminder of how many things your family is grateful for, or it might be a nice opportunity to talk to your child about gratitude. Here is a template that might be helpful: https://mk0hellobestowjm6762.kinstacdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/gratitude-activities-for-kids.printable.4a.pdf
  • Gratitude Jar - Use any empty jar for your "gratitude jar". Feel free to decorate your jar as a family. Again, put it in a common area where everyone can see & it's easily accessible. Put small, blank pieces of paper with the jar. Have everyone write something they are thankful for on the paper & then add it to the jar. Make this an ongoing project. If you'd rather verbally express what you are grateful for, you can choose different items to symbolize your gratitude such as cotton balls, pennies, buttons, etc. For example, instead of writing, each person could share aloud what they are grateful for & then add a cotton ball (or whatever you choose) to the jar to show the gratitude jar filling.
  • Gratitude Journal - Keep a journal of all the things you are thankful for. Try to add to it daily. Each family member can have their own or it could be a "gratitude book" that the whole family adds to.
  • Gratitude Walk - Simply enjoy the outdoors & acknowledge all the things you find & appreciate along the way. For example, stop to smell the roses (literally), appreciate any wildlife you see, look for cool cloud formations - just take the time to really take in your surroundings & recognize it for all its goodness.
  • Thank You Notes - Just like Scat the Cat, express your gratitude to others. Write a thank you note to a friend or family member & let them know all the things you treasure about them. Other ideas might be sending thank you notes to helpers in our community: doctors, nurses, cafeteria workers, grocery store employees, police officers, firefighters, military, etc.
  • Gratitude Photo Collection - Take pictures of things you are grateful for (people, places, objects). Give your child(ren) the chance to do the same. This can be done over a day, a week, or longer. You can print out the pictures to create a gratitude collage for your family, or you can simply create a folder on your phone or computer with the collection of your gratitude pictures. It will be nice to look back & reflect on these pictures as part of your practicing gratitude exercise.
  • Gratitude Stones - Collect some stones from outside & then have each family member decorate some using markers, sharpies, or paint. You can write "gratitude" on your rocks, or simply decorate them however you'd like. When someone does something that you are grateful for, you can give them one of your gratitude rocks as a "thank you" & to express your gratitude.

Gratitude Scavenger Hunt

Here's one more easy, fun way to practice gratitude as a family. Enjoy & have fun!

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Sending Sprinkles of Love, Hope, & Strength

Dear Adults in our Students' Lives,

You've heard it a million times - we are living in "unprecedented times". We are grieving over losses that were unimaginable up until this point: the closure of schools, the loss of jobs, friends & family getting sick, being isolated from the ones we love - the list goes on. It's normal & natural to feel sad, angry, stressed - any feeling you have is valid. However, there are ways to help you feel more positive & practicing gratitude is one of the most important steps you can take to improving your outlook. Practice gratitude for yourself & for your child(ren). Make it a family practice & help each other find the good in the small stuff & the good in every day. This is the way we will get through this time & we will come out stronger! As always, thank you for taking the time to read our newsletter & we are here to help in any way that we can, so please reach out.

With sprinkles of love, hope, & strength,

Mrs. Sgambato (School Psychologist) & Mrs. Muolo (School Adjustment Counselor)

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