Easing the Transition Back to School: Tips & Strategies for Students Across the Arc of Development

By Dr. Sarah Sumwalt, Director of Social & Emotional Learning and Counselor at The Langley School

It’s always amazing how, in a blink of an eye, August is upon us and we are gearing up for the transition back to school. Of course, the start of school brings excitement as children look forward to seeing their friends, meeting their teachers, and beginning a new adventure. However, this transition can also yield a great deal of anxiety for children, adolescents, and parents alike. The transition to early mornings, structure, separation from home, new friends, and homework can all elicit feelings of anxiety, frustration, and even dread. Importantly, these feelings are very typical and are experienced by many students across the Arc of Development. In an effort to ease the transition and begin to prepare our students (and ourselves!) for the return to school, below are some helpful tips and strategies for students and families. Continue reading

What Is Social-Emotional Learning Anyway…and Why Does It Matter?

By Dr. Sarah Sumwalt, Director of Social and Emotional Learning at The Langley School

What’s all the buzz about SEL?

The term social-emotional learning (SEL) has become ubiquitous in the field of education. SEL also dominates the mainstream media, with articles peppering news sources about the role of SEL in the classroom. Just last week, the D.C. Schools chancellor, Antwan Wilson, argued that students need to feel “loved, challenged, and prepared” and shared his vision for bringing an increased focus on social-emotional learning into the District’s classrooms.

Despite the intense current interest in the topic, the term social-emotional learning is not new. In fact, it has been a widely used term since the late 1990s. Definitions of the term typically include references to intrapersonal (e.g., self-awareness and self-management) and interpersonal (e.g., social awareness and relationship skills) competence. However, there is not one agreed upon definition and many differ on exactly what skills SEL entails. Continue reading

What’s It Like to Be “Top Dog” in Middle School?

by Phil Petru, Assistant Head of School

A recent study published in the American Educational Research Journal confirms what many of our Langley families already know. Our intentional preschool to grade 8 educational model provides a safer and more conducive environment for student learning. The study, recently highlighted by NPR, concludes that traditional middle school models with grade spans of 6-8 and 6-12 had more incidents of bullying or threats against other students. In these traditional school models, middle school students were considered “bottom dogs” and reported feeling less safe with more incidents of bullying and less sense of community in comparison to middle schoolers who attended schools with a K-8 model. Click here to read the short article from NPR.

At The Langley School, our Middle School students have numerous opportunities to feel like “top dogs” and exhibit authentic leadership on campus. Langley’s preschool to grade 8 model intentionally creates such an environment, while the faculty and administration design learning activities that foster leadership and a strong sense of community.

Hear what it’s like to be a “top dog” from Langley’s Middle School parents and students: