Set For Life: At Poughkeepsie Day, Social Intelligence Part of Healthy Education | Sponsored | Schools | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine

Students who feel well, do well—and can then excel academically. That's why, at Poughkeepsie Day School, they know that a healthy body and a mind at peace with itself are essential for learning. If a student is going to be willing to examine unfamiliar and original ideas, they need to be equipped with the “owner’s manual” for their minds and bodies: a comprehensive, life-enhancing understanding of health, wellness, and social intelligence.

At the lower school, Poughkeepsie Day School works with students and families to help establish fundamental patterns of sleep, nutrition, fitness, and emotional wellness. Each PDS student is offered a range of options everyday at lunch time and taught about the relationship between eating well, getting enough sleep, and their ability to learn.

  • Photos Courtesy of Poughkeepsie Day School

Lower school students engage in a Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Curriculum that helps them develop; self-awareness, social awareness, self-management, relationship skills, and responsible decision making. “Helping children develop self-awareness about their physical and emotional needs is a key step in supporting them as learners,” says Lower School Head Mary Ellen Kenny.

The middle school’s advisory program assigns every student an advocate, a trusted adult to help them feel known, valued, heard and safe. It’s from that sense of safety that they can begin building agency and taking the kind of academic risks that are essential for growth.

There’s also a strong commitment to play, which is a continuation of a core component of the lower school program. “Over the summer we re-evaluated our schedule in the middle school, and using the most recent research on adolescent development and healthy scheduling techniques, we decided to add a fifteen-minute outdoor break towards the end of our academic day,” says Upper and Middle School Head JJ Morrissey. “This provides our students with three chances per day to get outside, get fresh air, run around, and stimulate their brain.”

  • Photos Courtesy of Poughkeepsie Day School

High school students study a comprehensive, research-based Social Intelligence curriculum in grades 9-12 that covers nutrition, mental health, and sexual education. It’s paired with physical health and wellness instruction in PE classes.

“The combination gives us a 360-degree system of social and emotional support for our high school students that will enrich their lives now, and in the future,” says Morrissey. “Research shows that a social emotional program —or Social Intelligence (SI) as we have named it—not only improves achievement, but also provides an opportunity for students to build resilience, empathy, and promote a more positive attitude towards their school life.”

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