In our IICS Primary School, there are numerous ways that faculty and staff support student learning. One very effective way has been through the support of our Educational Psychologist, Vivian Huizenga. Vivian helps teachers implement easy-to-deliver classroom activities that help kids increase their learning skills, problem solving, empathy, and dealing with their own feelings. The latter two are important to include as studies conclude that children learn better once they have their social and emotional skills in place. Then they are more able to progress academically.

Vivian bases these activities on the Second Step program developed by Committee for Children, a non profit organization. These activities are in keeping with the IB’s Personal, Social and Physical Education Scope and Sequence, which sets specific curriculum objectives for teachers in these areas.

Vivian sometimes visits classrooms to lead activities that tie into the students’ current Unit of Inquiry. Some of the techniques and learning strategies students learn are: how to use self talk, how to focus, how to follow rules, and how to listen.

The Library & Counselor Collaboration, an initiative our faculty learned about at the CEESA conference last year, adds an additional dimension to library time. IICS piloted it in May 2016 and it has proven a strong addition to our support of student learning. For instance, this month’s theme is Caring. Library Assistant Dina Abizaid reads a book to a class of students and afterwards, Vivian will follow up with questions to get children thinking about caring in ways that are meaningful to them in their own lives. The story and its content provide a springboard for deeper conversations that target a specific kind of learning, self-discovery, skill building, or awareness.

If you are interested in these techniques and strategies, you can learn more from your child’s teacher or from Vivian Huizenga.