Now in its second year, Family Charter Night at Spiritridge Elementary, is the first link connecting the Social Emotional Learning students are gaining in the classroom and giving context to applying the strategy at home.

“The most meaningful part of Family Charter Night at Spiritridge was seeing how well the students in grades 4 and 5 have learned to understand and interpret emotions, know that it is possible to solve interpersonal problems, and have the confidence to teach what they’ve learned to parents, siblings and relatives,” said Cerys Maring parent of a 5th grader at Spiritridge.

Maring attended this year’s Family Charter Night, held on Oct. 23, aimed at bridging the gap between school and home in order to incorporate Social Emotional Learning strategies and tools that are formally taught at school into the home.

Families were asked to come together and create a family charter answering three questions:

  1. How do family members want to feel at home?
  2. What are actions/behaviors that will support these feelings with their family?
  3. How do they prevent and manage conflict at home?

“Families sat and ate together during the (student) presentations and really seemed to get a lot out of their roundtable discussions,” Maring explained.  “The students, especially the student presenters, were quite passionate about the importance of identifying their own and others’ emotions and the value of tools such as the Mood Meter.”

“The value of this type of family activity is to learn what your children think, feel and desire,” said 5th grade parent Sarah Chesemore.  It shows the importance of shared ownership and family commitments that are made to each other she explained.

The RULER approach and Social Emotional Learning is critical both at home and in the classroom.  Students are asked the same questions listed above while at school to create a classroom charter with their classmates.  A classroom charter is the first of four anchor tools in the RULER approach.

Applying Social Emotional Learning Abroad

One student and his family attended last year’s charter night and took his social emotional learnings from the classroom over to China this past summer.

Ling Zhuang, mother to 5th grader Joshua, shared that Joshua prepared a presentation for middle school students in rural China about his elementary life, including his social and emotional learning.  Joshua shared information about RULER and how he used this tool to help him build friendships and better understand others.

Social emotional learning “is an essential part of our kids’ growth,” said Zhuang.  “Though we are thousands of miles apart, our kids are no different.  They need communication, care and emotional guidance,” she added.

Zhuang has continued to see improvements in Joshua’s everyday life including “that he accepts failures and shortcomings much better than before.”  He is also willing to try new things and different approaches, even if it doesn’t come easily or naturally she said.

“But nothing is more powerful than seeing my own kid voluntarily choose to talk about RULER and how it changed him,” said Zhuang.

The Bellevue School District acknowledges that we learn, work, live and gather on the Indigenous Land of the Coast Salish peoples, specifically the Duwamish and Snoqualmie Tribes. We thank these caretakers of this land, who have lived and continue to live here, since time immemorial.