Social-emotional learning has taken on an increased importance since the pandemic. Many teachers report that kids are struggling with both more intense emotions and with navigating situations they may have missed during remote learning—like a busy playground.
Creating a solid foundation is so important. Teaching social-emotional skills like compassion, empathy, and mindfulness helps students start off on the right track and set the tone for how to get along with, and learn from, one another. This in turn helps create a productive learning environment in my classroom.
One of the best tools I’ve found to teach these skills is EVERFI’s online social-emotional learning program for elementary school, The Compassion Project. It’s a fun, easy-to-use, totally free program designed to teach students the critical skills they need to succeed. Here are my top reasons for using The Compassion Project.
It supports our core mission
Our school’s motto is “Be Here, Be Kind, and Be Your Best.” Our kids know it by heart—we repeat it every morning during announcements. This year in particular, our primary goal is to welcome our students back and make them feel safe. Our principal set the tone by telling us for the first few weeks, “You’re working on relationships, that’s what’s most important.” The Compassion Project ties right into our objectives, creating a common language in our classrooms around how we treat each other.
The Compassion Project provides information in an engaging, kid-friendly format
My students love The Compassion Project’s interactive online activities. The videos feature kids just like them in settings they know, like the playground and the classroom. And my students like the kids—they’re relatable. My kids are going through what those kids are going through. One student even told me, “That’s what happens to me on the playground. I know how it feels, and now I know how to help someone else when it happens.”
It teaches students valuable, lifelong strategies
The Compassion Project is broken into two separate courses, one for lower elementary students and one for upper elementary. Each activity presents a lively scenario and gives students the opportunity to think about how they would react in a similar situation. The activities for second and third grades include:
- Compassion Playground gives students a foundational understanding of the concept of compassion in a context that lets them relate it to personal experience.
- EmpathEyes teaches kids to put themselves in others’ shoes. They learn that the first step to being more compassionate is understanding how someone else feels.
- Mindful Maze teaches kids the invaluable tool of mindfulness: paying attention to how they feel in their minds, bodies, and hearts in the present moment. One part my students love is the balloon breathing technique that helps them calm themselves down.
Last school year, acting on feedback from teachers who were asking for more upper-grade content, EVERFI launched an upper elementary course for fourth and fifth grades that expands upon these topics with three additional lessons.
- Compassion & Empathy introduces students to definitions and depictions of compassion and related topics, encouraging them to observe instances of compassion in their school and home lives.
- Mistakes and Self-Care teaches students that making mistakes is normal, and that having compassion for oneself is healthy. They also learn about the importance of self-care.
- Emotions and Mindfulness helps students understand the role emotions play in demonstrating or choosing whether or not to be compassionate, emphasizing that emotions are within our control and can be managed and channeled for good.
It’s very easy to implement
A screenshot of one of my student’s responses after completing the three lower elementary modules.
With The Compassion Project, there is no need to pull a bunch of resources together. Everything I need is right there in one spot, including the three interactive online activities, plus 15 offline lesson plans. And lessons run anywhere from 30 to 70 minutes, making it easy to slip into my lesson plans for morning meeting or even for core academic subjects. In addition, the curriculum aligns with Common Core Standards in ELA and ESL.
The Compassion Project makes a difference
Social-emotional competencies such as compassion, empathy, and mindfulness are essential building blocks for not only a successful school year but a healthy life. Investing time in teaching our kids these skills in a fun, engaging way helps build a positive, supportive learning environment for all kids. Because when the focus is on taking care of ourselves and one another, it creates a ripple effect that matters.
Learn more about The Compassion Project, a free online curriculum from EVERFI, here.