Social-emotional learning (SEL) helps children become healthier, happier people, as well as active and engaged citizens. It teaches children to recognize and manage emotions, care about others, develop positive relationships, and avoid negative behaviors. But these skills alone do not inform a child’s ethical education and development, which include learning how “to act or respond to ethical challenges present in relationships or underlying instances of emotional upheaval.” That’s why Springboard pairs SEL with whole-child development, whose pillars also include:
-Learning in an environment that is physically and emotionally safe for students and adults
-Being actively engaged in learning and connected to the school/community
-Having access to personalized learning, supported by qualified, caring adults
One of the ways Springboard programs help parents and families accomplish these whole-child tenets is through building positive developmental relationships. Research on positive developmental relationships says that children are characterized by attunement, co-regulation, consistency, and a caregiver’s ability to accurately perceive and respond to a child’s internal state. These types of relationships align with a child’s social-historical life space and provide protection, emotional security, knowledge, and scaffolding to develop age-appropriate skills.
Developmentally positive relationships are essential to a child’s development and are the foundation for lifelong learning and adaptation. They can also be integrated in an educational setting. According to Turnaround USA’s report on “Key Findings and Implications for the Science of Learning and Development,” students should “receive guidance and support to develop foundational skills, habits, and mindsets that promote perseverance, resilience, agency, and self-direction (e.g., executive function, self-regulatory routines, stress management, growth mindset).”
Our Family-Educator Learning Accelerator (FELA) method, particularly the steps around goal setting and working together with families and teachers, helps children build resiliency. Research has repeatedly found that “children who do well in the face of adversity have at least one stable and responsive relationship with a parent, caregiver, or other adult.”
A key way to accomplish this is through building mutually supportive relationships between teachers, school, and families. One of the ways we do this is through high-dosage tutoring. Our tutors are committed to building strong relationships with family members through team-building huddles at the beginning of programming and during family workshops. A Springboard high-dosage tutoring program allows each student to receive up to 900 minutes of additional 1:1 tutoring or small-group instruction. In addition to the time per session, students are incentivized to read at home independently (using provided decodable e-book access) and with their families, who develop the skills they need to act as at-home literacy coaches during five family workshops we hold throughout the program. This increases the amount of time children spend reading both on their own and with a knowledgeable adult in and out of school.
Through our evidence-based reading curriculum, scripted manuals and materials, and professional development centered on family engagement, our tutors feel empowered to develop their instructional practice in addition to their ability to engage families as learning partners.
We also believe effective tutors don’t have to be certified teachers; on the contrary, some tutors who have achieved the best results with struggling learners are paraprofessionals with undergraduate degrees. This opens up the possibility for schools to meet the needs of students by inviting an expanded—and potentially more affordable—workforce into the fold; what’s more—Springboard programming provides a high-quality professional learning pipeline for talented, aspiring teachers.
Ultimately, the partnership in which tutors share instructional strategies with families in exchange for the commitment that families will use these strategies at home and return with meaningful observations creates enormous leverage. For every hour that a tutor leads a family workshop, parents deliver ~25 hours of tutoring at home. This not only boosts literacy outcomes but allows children to learn from qualified, caring adults in an environment that is physically/emotionally safe and familiar to them.