February 13, 2024

Our 2023 summer camp included a social-emotional learning class that benefited our students’ mental health. Ms. Amanda Fontaine, a Student Family Resource Specialist at SDoL, taught students how to identify and discuss their emotions, develop healthy coping skills, and problem-solve effectively.

She focused on a new topic each week with interactive discussions and personal or small-group challenges. The goal was to give the students tools to help them regulate and respond in healthy ways. She covered feelings identification, stress model of crisis, coping skills, problem-solving, communication/boundary setting, and self-esteem. In addition to class time, Ms. Amanda visited the morning music classes and checked in with students for one-on-one counseling.

The students enjoyed being heard as they talked about their feelings, and while the challenges often made them angry, they became a favorite part of the class. Marciel shared that at every class, Ms Amanda says, “Today, I’m going to make you angry.” He added, “Ms Amanda helps us a lot. The challenges are really hard and get us pretty angry. But she helps us find ways to calm down.” 

Another student, Chanric, had this to say about the class: “I like Ms. Amanda’s class because we get to talk about and share our feelings. I enjoyed the stacking pennies challenge the most because we got candy. Some of the other challenges made me frustrated and angry. We talked about breathing to help calm down.”

“I breathed, I calmed down, and counted to three,” Emma said after getting upset from a difficult challenge.  “It has helped me be more honest with my feelings and less emotional,” she shared about the class.

After an exercise in frustration tolerance and practicing coping skills when students experience frustration, Ms. Amanda said, “It is cool to see the students say, ‘I can’t,’  and change to ‘Look at what I did when I didn’t give up!'” 

The students completed a survey during the camp’s first and last week to identify their pre and post-social-emotional skills. The report showed that 70% of the students increased their scores, 22% remained the same, and 7% had a decrease. Overall, the students benefited from the SEL class and gained tools to help them regulate and respond in healthy ways.