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Social Emotional Learning Family Night a success in Metuchen


METUCHEN – The Metuchen School District Committee for Social Emotional Character Development held its second successful Social Emotional Learning Family Night.

The night was initially going to be held on the Metuchen High School (MHS) football field; however, due to impending weather it was moved to Campbell Elementary School (CES) on June 1.

The overarching topics this year focused on family emotional safety and managing stress with mindfulness, according to CES Assistant Principal Brooke Kirschner.

During the first hour, adults and children were separate.

The committee discussed how to help parents manage disagreements and anger at home for them and their children. They also gave parents the tools to bring their “best selves” to interactions with family members by shifting from a reactive and stressed mode to a mindfully responsive mode.

During the second hour, adults and children role-played exercises to develop and apply the skills previously taught. As a closing activity, families created a positive affirmations jar.

The Social Emotional Character Development (SECD) Committee hosted its first Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Family night in March 2020, pre-pandemic.

“We got such wonderful feedback from the community that it’s a shame we’ve had to put off a follow-up in-person event for so long due to COVID,” Kirschner said.

The SECD was established to support staff and parents by providing resources to help students understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, make responsible decisions and demonstrate good character, according to the school’s website.

The district received a grant through the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) PRIDE campaign to purchase all materials for the event, Kirschner said.

SECD collaborated with Schools Assistant Superintendent Rick Cohen to put the SEL Family Night together.

NJEA’s PRIDE campaign supports the NJEA FAST, or Families and Schools Together. The goal of FAST is to involve parents and families in their children’s education through programs and events to help improve student achievement and ensure that families feel welcome and connected to their schools, according to NJEA’s website.

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