When we consider how an elementary school district should prepare children for high school and beyond, we typically think of academic skill building. We know our students will need the ability to speak and write clearly, research and process information, critically assess data, and apply their own analytical skills to solve problems every day.
But we also know that the ability to build positive relationships, starting with friendships in childhood, is critical to success throughout all of life’s endeavors including success in school and in work and general well-being. Sunnyvale School District recognizes the balance necessary to prepare students for successful futures in its mission to provide every student with a strong foundation of academic, behavioral, and social-emotional skills to prepare them for success in a diverse, challenging, and changing world.
For elementary and middle school students, navigating the world of friendship is not always easy, especially for young children who are just learning how to recognize and manage emotions, empathize with the needs of others, and negotiate compromises when deciding which game to play next. But research shows that children who develop relationships with others through friendship are more inclined to attend school regularly, feel a part of the community, and have higher self-esteem – all of which contribute to greater academic achievement.
We help students to build relationships by first committing to understand and appreciate the social, emotional, and cultural uniqueness of each child. With this knowledge, our teachers help students develop positive relationships with their peers by creating inclusive, joyful class cultures, having high expectations for respectful and constructive interactions, and facilitating conversations that encourage children to share their differences and commonalities to help them learn from one another.
Social, emotional, and cultural lessons are built into our school days and are increasingly integrated into math, science, and language arts, social studies, and even physical education lessons. Together, our staff, students, and families are building inclusive, caring communities that foster the academic, social-emotional, and behavioral growth of our students and, yes, the skills to build and maintain positive, supportive friendships that will benefit them now and into their futures.
Our teachers and staff find real joy in observing students embrace these concepts as they learn and grow. It is an honor to serve your children.
Thank you for your trust and partnership.