Starting Out: Empathy
Beginning in Kindergarten, our students learn about being aware of emotions their peers might be experiencing. For example, can you read other emotions, or are you able to read yours? When children learn to acknowledge the feelings of others, they are better able to empathize and understand their peers. A child who recognizes another is scared, or jealous, or happy, is better able to communicate with them. This helps the students connect with their peers, show more empathy, and be able to better communicate. We ensure students understand and learn these fundamentals when they come to Khan Lab School, establishing a foundation of emotional awareness and empathy that builds on throughout their journey.
By middle school, the transition from exploring the feelings of yourself and others develops into learning to build confidence. Confidence building allows students to feel more secure in themselves and in their friendships with other students. A child that feels confident in themselves is more likely to open up to their peers and feel like a stronger part of the community. From there, confidence builds the foundations for a stronger and more empathetic community, one that is built on respect.
In high school, the focus turns to further building the confidence of our students to help them develop into a self-assured, empathetic, and respectful adult. At their age, students are able to take the lessons they’ve learned in lower grades and apply them to their everyday lives. Our goal is by their junior year, students will be able to take on a mentoring role within the community and help students in the lower grades develop as well. As independent learning and self-paced education allows choice within growth, our hope is that our students will make the best possible choices for themselves and their community.
Preparing for the Next Chapter
Senior year begins with a focus on how to adapt the lessons to real world events, outside of the Khan Lab School bubble. As senior year is a transitional year between the ending of their academic foundation towards higher education and greater independence, we aim to prepare them to the best of their abilities. Part of the lessons involve conflict resolution: we disagree but how can we still belong? The focus is creating belonging among their peers and within their worlds.
Furthermore, in a college setting, can they take a mental “toolkit” with them to college, where they will be prepared for anything from living in a college dorm to loneliness or homesickness, as well as forming healthy relationships. Our goal is to cultivate well-rounded individuals, both academically and emotionally.
Bridging the Gaps
Though a lot of this subject matter is learned through social settings, the goal is to bridge the gap and make these subjects easier to master. Furthermore, because each and every one of us feels emotions, students who enter in middle school or high school without completing the full course are more than able to pick up the material as they move up in grades, whether or not they’ve started from the beginning.
The Myth of Belonging
Personal well being is a skill that needs to be taught and practiced—your mental and emotional well being affects every area in life. Some who is self-conscious or insecure probably won’t do as well in life as someone who has been taught how to overcome their diffidence. By building these foundational skills within a child, we build a more confident, self-reliant, and successful adult.
The myth of belonging is not just something that happens—while belonging can happen within commonality, the act has to be taught and practiced. Our goal is to teach how to make belonging when there are things in common and when there aren’t things in common.
The Path to Growth and Development
Elementary school students are learning to recognize and put names to the emotions they are feeling. By middle school, they are learning to use those skills learned to help connect with others. And finally, by high school, the emphasis is putting it to use in everyday situations.
These three principles can easily be summed up as the following:
Our goal is to guide our students through learning and developing each step. As they grow academically, so will their emotional levels.
Director of Student Wellbeing
Mikki is the Director of Student Wellbeing at Khan Lab School. As her goal is to help students grow and understand their emotions the same way they would an educational course, she's made it her mission to develop a program that helps students learn about social emotional learning.
Join Mikki to learn more about our advisory program and how we integrate Social Emotional Learning (SEL) into our everyday experience at Khan Lab School.
This video was captured as part of our In The Lab Speaker Series, a collection of interviews with faculty, staff, and students about what makes Khan Lab School so unique. Click here to access the archive of videos.
Learn More On Our Blog
Students learn to express their feelings and emotions through the metaphor of weather. Check out the forecast!
Advisory Valentine Lesson for first grade students about creating the perfect recipe for friendship.
Progress happens quickly and is being documented on social media.
Follow @khanlabschool for updates throughout the year!