Enrichment

We strive to ensure that our students are receiving a well-rounded education that promotes holistic development and growth. Academics are an important part of that development and growth, but so are other facets of your child’s life, including their spiritual, social, and emotional selves.

Executive Functioning

A key developmental area is executive functioning. Although there are many different models and definitions of executive functioning skills, researchers agree that these skills are developmental, brain-based skills that originate in the prefrontal cortex and are necessary for learning and intellectual development to occur. Executive functioning skills are not related to “intelligence”, but are responsible for an individual’s ability to manage and control their thinking, emotions, and actions. Children are not born with executive functioning skills, but researchers have found that these skills begin to emerge and develop even within the first year of life.
 
From Pre-K through 8th grade, much of what a student is able to accomplish is a direct result from the influence of their developing executive functioning skills. At ASB, we keep on the lookout for the following skills, which greatly influence student achievement and well-being:
 
  • Response Inhibition- the ability to control one’s impulses
  • Emotional Control- the ability to manage emotions appropriately
  • Sustained Attention- the ability to hold focus on what matters
  • Organization- the ability to to manage one’s materials
  • Flexibility-  the ability to adapt to situations and changing circumstances
  • Goal-Directed Persistence- the ability to persevere over time to reach desired outcomes
  • Working Memory- the ability to hold information in your mind while working on a task
  • Task Initiation- the ability to get started on a task in a timely manner
  • Planning/Prioritization-the ability to create an action plan for accomplishing a goal
  • Time Management- the ability to understand time and how it relates to task completion
  •  Metacognition- the ability to think about, understand, and evaluate one’s own thinking
 
Executive functioning skills take time and energy to develop, and our staff believes in the importance of explicit teaching, practice, and reinforcement of these skills in the daily lives of students. Just as in academics, we strive to facilitate one year of growth in executive functioning skills in each of our students every academic year. To support the development and the growth of our students’ skills, we utilizes a Multi-Tiered System of Support  that systematically manages all efforts to create a supportive, enriching, skill-building, and informative executive functioning experience for our students and families. In this model, all students and families benefit from programming, with additional levels of support and enrichment afforded to students and families who demonstrate need.
 

To develop lifelong learners who achieve success well beyond the walls of ASB, we take seriously the development of executive functioning skills in all of our learners. Our students benefit from explicit lessons in the classroom that directly promote the identification, understanding, and practicing of executive functioning skills. Once per week, students have the opportunity to participate in our Self-Regulation Program, which provides one lesson in self-regulation to all students in the building each week. Although these lessons span a variety of themes throughout the year, the promotion of executive functioning skills is an important component to this program. Some explicit lessons that students may receive include such topics as “How to Organize Your Materials”; “What are Distractions, and How to Avoid Them”; “The Importance of Creativity”; “Managing Strong Feelings”;  and “Coping with Stress”.

As part of our Tier 1 programming in executive functioning skills, we also promote enrichment in executive functioning through leadership opportunities. We strive to create graduates who have both comfort, experience, and confidence in taking on leadership positions in their current and future communities. We focus on the development of leadership skills, which are strongly linked to executive functioning, in all grades, in such opportunities as:

  • Leading whole-class service projects;
  • Presenting learning to the community (i.e. Reading Rodeo – 1st Grade; Learning Luau – 2nd Grade; Long-Range Study Project – 3rd Grade; Native American Project – 4th Grade; National Parks Project – 5th Grade);
  • Participating in performances (i.e. Christmas and Spring Concerts);
  • School-wide Buddy Program; and
  • School-wide Families Program.
 

Learning about, discussing, practicing, and reflecting upon executive functioning skills is something that is ingrained in our teaching practices and the educational environment we provide our students. Teachers consistently use reminders and direct feedback to help all students recognize their executive functioning skills and work to improve them. Because of our emphasis on the development of executive functioning skills, parents may hear about their child’s development in this area in emails, parent-teacher conferences, and in comments on report cards.

Students Who Benefit from Some Extra Support:

Executive functioning skills are a very broad range of skills and abilities, and continue to develop throughout the lifespan. It is exceedingly rare for any individual to excel in all areas of executive functioning skills, and even for adults, we can typically identify one or more executive functioning skills that could be improved. Typically, students will also demonstrate some executive functioning strengths and some executive functioning skill deficits. When teachers note an executive functioning skill weakness in a student, they work to explicitly promote and monitor development in that skill with the student. At times, these executive functioning weaknesses considerably impact a student’s ability to be successful in their classroom and with their peers, and for these students, additional support in the area of executive functioning becomes necessary.

We typically use one or more of the following options to provide opportunities for students to have access to additional support in executive functioning:

  • Completion of individual Goal Books, where students are receiving daily feedback from teachers on executive functioning skills;
  • Individual or small-group meetings with our School Counselor;
  • Check-In/Check Out (CICO) Program; and
  • Reinventing Achievement & Development (RAD) Program.
 

Students Who Benefit from Some Extra Enrichment:

For students who are currently demonstrating solid executive functioning skills, this area will still need to be nurtured and promoted: a 2nd grader with excellent 2nd-grade level executive skills will still require much growth and development in these skills to be a successful 4th grader. For that reason, these students continue to be enriched in our continuous instruction and promotion of these skills in the classroom. In addition, teachers and parents may use the following strategies to promote enrichment in executive functioning for these students:

  • Additional responsibilities at school (i.e. classroom jobs) and home (i.e. chores);
  • Modified homework and project expectations (i.e. requiring more advanced work);
  • Extracurriculars (i.e. clubs, sports, arts);
  • Participation in band or choir;
  • Plenty of opportunities for free play with a variety of sensory materials;
  • Encourage creative storytelling as a family; and
  • Establish more advanced routines at home and encourage independence (i.e. getting ready for bed, getting dressed in the morning, making dinner).
 

For our students who benefit from enrichment, we often see significant benefit from things that happen outside of the classroom, like learning a new language, karate, dance, or a musical instrument. These skills challenge executive functioning in a new and different way, and serve students in enriching their application of their skills to new and complex situations.

During the 2018-2019 academic year, all of our teachers and classroom aids participated in a year-long professional development opportunity to improve their ability to work with students on executive functioning skills with Beth Peterson, a local expert and executive functioning coach. During this pilot year, teachers had the opportunity to work as an Executive Functioning Coach, and invite one or two students to work with individually on executive functioning skills. For these selected students, their Executive Functioning Coach meets with them regularly to identify executive functioning strengths and weaknesses, set an intervention plan in place for selected executive functioning skills, routinely monitor the student’s progress on that skill, and provide feedback for continued improvement. Our teachers are enjoying learning more about coaching students on their executive functioning skills, and look forward to using this expertise in both their classrooms and in work with individual students. After this pilot year of training, we look forward to offering more Tier 2 support for students in executive functioning coaching. For more information, you can check out this Coaching Students with Executive Skill Deficits, and Smart but Scattered, which are two of the many resources our teachers are using for improving their skill set.

Students Who Benefit from Significant Support:

Some of our students receive Tier 1 and Tier 2 Executive Functioning Programming, and still struggle to demonstrate adequate progress in the school environment. Some of these students may have a suspected disability while others may already have a documented disability that impacts their executive functioning skill development. For these students who continue to struggle despite additional support, our staff will often recommend that the student receive some additional tutoring or coaching outside of school. The student will often benefit from the one-on-one, targeted and individualized support that a paid tutor or coach can provide. This support is a fantastic addition to the continued Tier 1 and Tier 2 programming that Assumption-St. Bridget School will continue to provide the student. Assumption-St. Bridget School maintains some recommendations for support in this area, and you may contact your child’s homeroom teacher, or a member of our Student Success Team, for more information on these resources.

If the student has a suspected or documented disability that may be impacting the development of their executive functioning skills, our staff may also recommend an evaluation or a Student Support Plan. Please click here for more information.

Students Who Benefit from Significant Enrichment:

For students who demonstrate an even higher need for enrichment in executive functioning skills, the focus should be on creating more opportunities for leadership beyond what is offered in our Tier 1 programming. Although we strive to graduate all students with some leadership experience and comfort, students with strong executive functioning skills often benefit from additional opportunities to grow this area of expertise. Some potential avenues for enrichment in leadership may include:

  • Serving as a Classroom Representative;
  • Serving as a Classroom Ambassador;
  • Being a Guest Teacher in a younger grade’s classroom;
  • Creating and managing a new service-project;
  • Participating in additional service hours outside of school requirements;
  • Applying for Student Leadership Team;
  • Serving as a tutor or coach for younger students;
  • Taking on a leadership role in extracurricular activities (i.e. Team Captain); and
  • Participating in outside leadership training programs (i.e. Junior National Young Leaders Conference).

Social/Emotional Support

We provide a comprehensive educational experience that aims to facilitate optimal personal growth for each and every student. Our exceptional programming goes beyond academics to ensure that our students also acquire deep spiritual connections, strong social skills, emotional intelligence, and commitment to service, to take their place as leaders in our future local and global communities.
 
When we are thinking about the future for our students, there may be nothing more important than ensuring they have deep personal connections to others, and harbor a genuine belief in themselves as capable and deserving individuals. We aim to develop those outcomes through intentional and meaningful programming that serves and benefits all of our students and families. In our mission, we do not aim to free our students from all conflicts, setbacks, or heartbreaks, but we do aim to strengthen the social and emotional capacities of resilience and grit to facilitate our students’ successful management of anything that comes their way.
 
From Pre-K through 8th grade, much of what a student is able to accomplish is a direct result from the influence of their social and emotional skill set. At ASB, we keep on the lookout for the following skills, which greatly influence student achievement and well-being:
 
  • Emotional Intelligence-the ability to be able to understand, manage, and reflect upon one’s feelings
  • Self-Awareness- the ability to understand and reflect upon one’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Self-Management- the ability to regulate one’s feelings, thoughts, and behaviors to achieve goals
  • Responsible Decision Making- the ability to develop, reflect upon, weigh, and select from multiple options when making decisions
  • Relationship Skills- the ability to establish and maintain positive and healthy relationships with peers, adults, and community members
  • Social Awareness- the ability to understand and reflect upon the nuance of social interaction, as well as the expectations for appropriate social behavior in various situations
  • Growth Mindset- the ability to understand one’s self as a growing and developing individual whose skills are not fixed or static, and can be improved with hard work and effort
  • Grit- the combination of passion, determination, and perseverance to work through setbacks and achieve goals
  • Resilience- the ability to see obstacles as opportunities for positive change and strengthening of character and resolve
  • Mindfulness- the ability to calmly and nonjudgmentally focus awareness on the present to better inform thoughts, feelings, and actions
  • Diversity Competency- the ability to understand one’s self as a diverse individual who values the diversity of all community members
  • Curiosity- the ability to show interest in the finding, exploration, and solving of a variety of challenges and problems
  • Creativity- the ability to develop a menu of unique and novel solutions to a problem or challenge; the ability to do something in a way that has not been done before
 
Just as in academics, we strive to facilitate one year of growth in social and emotional competencies in each of our students every academic year. To support the development and the growth of our students’ social and emotional characteristics and skills, ASB utilizes a Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) that systematically manages all efforts to create a supportive, enriching, skill-building, and informative social and emotional experience for our students and families. In this model, all students and families benefit from programming, with additional levels of support afforded to students and families who demonstrate need.
 

Students are also provided with ample opportunities to interact with a wide variety of students and staff members to promote their abilities to connect with others, establish relationships, and maintain friendships. Recess is designed to group students in kindergarten through 2nd grades, 3rd through 5th grades, and 6th through 8th grades, to give students an opportunity to meet and interact with students in multiple grades. Students also participate in the school-wide Buddy Program, where each student in the building is assigned another student to partner with for the entirety of the school year.  Together, the pairs complete monthly activities together to establish and develop connection and relationships. Students greatly enjoy the long-term friendships they develop as a result of this program.

Students also participate in our School Families Program. School Families are made of students in grades K-8th grade, and each family is assigned one or two staff members. School Families get together once per month to talk about Catholic values and complete activities as a group, which are often tied to service. This is yet another fantastic way that we provide students with opportunities to create school-wide community and practice their social and emotional skills with a new set of students and teachers.

Students in 3rd grade have the added bonus of receiving additional instruction in bullying prevention. This program, entitled Steps to Respect, supports the development of a welcoming classroom culture, as well as student expertise on bullying prevention. Students learn the three R’s of Bullying: Recognize, Refuse, and Report, through the use of interactive instruction, discussion, academic work, individual reflection, and partner and small group activities. As a result of this program, students feel assured about the application of Catholic values in the ASB School community, competent in recognizing and responding to marginalized members of the school community, and confident about their role in establishing and maintaining an inclusive school climate.

While many schools are doing away with or shortening the unstructured play time that students have within the context of their school day, ASB believes that this time enriches the child’s educational experience. These times during the day provide all of our students with opportunities to play and think creatively without limits. Students may build, tell stories, engage in fantasy play, practice basketball, soccer, football, or volleyball, play with hula-hoops, jump ropes, or bouncy balls, or join group games. We encourage students to use this time to develop connections with peers, take risks and try new things, and use their body and mind to create and explore. In Kindergarten through 5th grades, students receive 50-minutes of recess per day, while in grades 6-8 students still receive 30-minutes of recess per day. Pre-K and Kindergarten students have additional developmentally-appropriate play opportunities within the structure of their school days.

As part of our Tier 1 programming in social and emotional skills, we also promote enrichment in social and emotional skills through leadership opportunities. At ASB, we strive to create graduates who have both comfort, experience, and confidence in taking on leadership positions in their current and future communities. We focus on the development of leadership skills, which are strongly linked to social and emotional skills, in all grades, in such opportunities as:

  • Leading whole-class service projects;
  • Presenting learning to the community (i.e. Reading Rodeo – 1st Grade; Learning Luau – 2nd Grade; Long-Range Study Project – 3rd Grade; Native American Project – 4th Grade; National Parks Project – 5th Grade);
  • Participating in performances (i.e. Christmas and Spring Concerts);
  • School-wide Buddy Program (leadership opportunity for older buddies); and
  • School-wide Families Program (leadership for 8th grade students).

 

Learning about, discussing, practicing, and reflecting upon social and emotional skills is something that is ingrained in our teaching practices and the educational environment we provide our students. Teachers consistently use reminders and direct feedback to help all students recognize their social and emotional skills and work to improve them. Because of our emphasis on the development of social and emotional skills, parents may hear about their child’s development in this area in emails, parent-teacher conferences, and in comments on report cards.

Students Who Benefit from Some Extra Support:

Social and emotional skills are a very valuable and diverse range of skills and abilities, and continue to develop throughout the lifespan. It is rare for any individual to excel in all areas of social and emotional skills, and even for adults, we can typically identify one or more social and emotional skills that could be improved. Typically, students will also demonstrate some social and emotional strengths and some social and emotional skill deficits. When teachers note a social or emotional skill weakness in a student, they work to explicitly promote and monitor development in that skill with the student. At times, these social or emotional weaknesses considerably impact a student’s ability to be successful in their classroom and with their peers, and for these students, additional support in the area of social or emotional becomes necessary.

There are also times when a student demonstrates developmentally-appropriate social and emotional skills and abilities, but they are put into a situation that overly taxes their current skill set. This may occur in situations such as academic struggles or learning difficulties; extended conflict with a peer; being exposed to bullying behavior; relocation or transition to a new school; diagnosis of a disorder or medical condition; extensive illness or injury; family conflict, separation, or divorce; death of a family member or friend; or other traumatic event. In these situations, it is also appropriate for students to receive additional support in the area of social/emotional to support the student during and after the impactful extenuating circumstances that the student has been exposed to.

At ASB, we typically use one or more of the following options to provide opportunities for students to have access to additional support in social/emotional development:

  • Completion of individual Goal Books, where students are receiving daily feedback from teachers on specific social or emotional skills
  • Completion of individual Recess Journals, where students are taking time to complete a daily journal at school in regards to recess play
  • Individual or small-group meetings with our School Counselor
  • Peer facilitation with our School Counselor
  • Check-In/Check Out (CICO) Program
  • Reinventing Achievement & Development (RAD) Program.
 

When a particular class appears to be struggling as a group in some social or emotional skill, we will also often implement additional social/emotional curriculum in that particular class (i.e. a stress management unit), and/or hold a series of gender-specific lunches, where the entire grade is split into girl and boy lunch groups. This allows staff to provide instruction and support that is targeted to a specific need at a specific age. These interventions are most often managed by a collaborative effort between teachers and the Student Success Team members.

Students Who Benefit from Some Extra Enrichment:

For students who are currently demonstrating solid social and emotional skills, this area will still need to be nurtured and promoted given the various social and emotional milestones and challenges that occur for each age range of students. For that reason, these socially and emotionally successful students will continue to benefit from the continuous instruction and promotion of these skills in the classroom. In addition, teachers and parents may use the following strategies to promote enrichment in social and emotional development for these students:

  • Additional responsibilities at school (i.e. classroom jobs) and home (i.e. chores)
  • Extracurriculars (i.e. clubs, sports, arts)
  • Participation in band or choir
  • Plenty of opportunities for free play with a variety of sensory materials
  • Encourage creative storytelling as a family
  • Exposure to new groups of students through non-ASB clubs, programs, and teams
 

These new experiences have the potential to challenge the social and emotional skills of a student in a new and different way, and serve students in enriching their application of skills to new and complex situations.

Students Who Benefit from Significant Support:

Some of our students receive Tier 1 and Tier 2 Social and Emotional Programming, and still struggle to demonstrate adequate progress in the school environment. Some of these students may have a suspected disability while others may already have a documented disability that impacts their social and emotional functioning. For these students who continue to struggle despite additional support, our staff will often recommend that the student receive some additional coaching or counseling outside of school. The student will often benefit from the one-on-one, targeted and individualized support that a private behavioral coach or social/emotional counselor can provide. This support is a fantastic addition to the continuation of Tier 1 and Tier 2 programming that will remain in place for the student. Assumption-St. Bridget School maintains some recommendations for support in this area, and you may contact your child’s homeroom teacher or a member of our Student Success Team for more information on these resources.

If the student has a suspected disability that may be impacting their social or emotional functioning, our staff may also recommend an evaluation. Please click here for more information.

If the student has a documented disability that is impacting their social or emotional functioning, our staff may also recommend a Student Support Plan. Please click here for more information.

Students Who Benefit from Significant Enrichment:

For students who demonstrate an even higher need for enrichment in social and emotional skills, the focus should be on creating more opportunities for leadership beyond what is offered in our Tier 1 programming. Although we strive to graduate all students with comfort and confidence in leadership, students with strong social and emotional skill sets often benefit from additional opportunities to grow this area of expertise. Some potential avenues for enrichment in leadership may include:

  • Serving as a Classroom Representative
  • Serving as a Classroom Ambassador
  • Being a Guest Teacher in a younger grade’s classroom
  • Creating and managing a new service-project
  • Participating in additional service hours outside of school requirements
  • Applying for Student Leadership Team
  • Serving as a mentor or coach for younger students
  • Taking on a leadership role in extracurricular activities (i.e. Team Captain)
  • Participating in outside leadership training programs (i.e. Junior National Young Leaders Conference)

If you are concerned about your child’s progress in the area of executive functioning or social/emotional development and believe that he or she needs further support or enrichment to make adequate growth, your first step would be to contact your child’s homeroom teacher.  If you continue to have concerns that your child has a suspected disability or needs more services the Student Success Team can assist you in next steps.  If you would like to speak to someone about our executive functioning enrichment and support programming, please contact Director of Student Success, Elee McCarthy, School Counselor Christy Dahl, or Principal Conklin