Pam Payne

Foundations of any building need careful planning, developing, and creating. Safe and strong foundations ensure the stability and integrity of any building for a lifetime. These planning skills are also essential for building safe and strong academic foundations in children.

At Gibbs Pre-K, foundational training begins with the social and emotional skills that all children need to be successful in school and life. When children can control their impulses and behaviors, they are better prepared for listening and learning.

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to know and manage one’s feelings and emotions. Social Intelligence is the ability to manage oneself in group settings. Both intelligences are interdependent. Children learn about themselves by watching and interacting with others. Our ability to relate to others comes from the application of what we have learned from those early interactions to a broader world which usually includes children’s first experiences at school.

Because the social and emotional needs of children are foundational to academic successes, appropriate curriculum and classroom activities are essential for achieving these goals. Gibbs Pre-K uses an excellent social emotional curriculum, Conscious Discipline. Conscious Discipline uses the School Family model. It builds on the success of the family model for children who already have a balanced family life, and provides a sense of safety and belonging for children who lack the experience of successful relationships at home.

The Conscious Discipline program has classroom structures to promote safety and the school family. The primary structure is the Safekeeper. Safekeepers are the classroom teachers and are the heart of the School Family. The Safekeepers have “Treasure Boxes” were students’ pictures or representative objects are kept. The rituals vary from school family to school family; however, each child is treasured. A pledge from the Safekeeper is voiced daily that each school family member will be kept “Safe” in school today! The school family member also has a responsibility to keep it “Safe” along with the Safekeeper! This ritual is a connecting ritual from safekeeper to each school family member ... and where there is connection, there is cooperation!

Making connections with students is the best foundation for academic connections. Our brains are constantly looking for connections and Conscious Discipline paves the way to academic successes for all learners, including adult learners! I am thankful for the tremendous opportunity to build strong learners at Gibbs Pre-Kindergarten.

Pam Payne is a teacher at Gibbs Pre-Kindergarten Center in Huntsville.