Briarwood seeks to promote the development of the whole child-intellectually, socially, emotionally, and physically. We begin in Lower School with our T.O.P.S. program.
T.O.P.S. (Teaching Opportunities in Pragmatic Skills)
Children with learning differences often have difficulty learning and using social skills and pragmatics (social communication). They may experience a delay in acquiring and applying adequate social judgement and “street smarts.” Research has shown that children with learning differences and attention deficits have an increased risk of experiencing a lack of friendship, poor self-esteem, substance abuse, and less emotional resiliency as compared to their typical peer group. Similar to the process of learning academic concepts, children with learning differences benefit from direct instruction and opportunities to practice social skills and pragmatics. T.O.P.S., Teaching Opportunities in Pragmatic Skills, is a Lower School class unique to Briarwood. All Lower School students attend the 30 minute class two to three times each week. By participating in a variety of games, activities, and individual projects, students work to develop skills to enhance self-esteem, communication, character education, and social skills. The classroom is equipped complete with a stage so that students can role-play and practice skits to enhance problem solving abilities. At the end of each school year students present a play to their parents. Sixth grade students research, write and present speeches to their parents during the year.
Right Choice Awards
In addition to direct instruction during the T.O.P.S. classroom activities, the language of good character is imbedded in daily instruction. The Briarwood School focuses on directly teaching and reinforcing positive attributes and each month a different character trait is highlighted.
The Right Choice component of character education rewards and reinforces students for demonstrating these positive traits. When a student does something above and beyond expectations, any member of the staff – administrators, teachers, and support staff – may give the student a Right Choice Award. Our goal, as was said by our founder, Yvonne Streit, is to “catch them doing something good!” During the morning assembly, students receiving a Right Choice Award are publicly recognized and applauded. By involving everyone, a unity of purpose prevails, resulting in students experiencing the good feelings that come from making “right choices.”
KCC Club (Kindness, Compassion & Courage)
“People will never know how far a little kindness will go.” – Rachel Scott
The KCC Club continues the legacy of the national Rachel’s Challenge program by spreading kindness, compassion and courage throughout our school, homes and community. The Rachel’s Challenge mission is to “motivate and equip students to start and sustain a chain reaction of kindness and compassion that transforms schools and communities.” By creating a positive school climate and encouraging individual character development, the KCC Club helps to build friendships and prevent bullying.
Lower School students are automatically a member of the KCC Club. They attend KCC meetings and participate in games and activities promoting kindness, teamwork, and community service. The KCC Club encourages students to always look for the good in others and to show gratitude. Students give each other KCC hearts to acknowledge acts of kindness, compassion or courage. People receiving KCC hearts are recognized during the morning assembly. The hearts are posted around the school so that everyone can see how small acts of kindness really add up. Over one thousand KCC hearts were given to students this year!
Service projects for the club include creating thank you cards to show appreciation for “behind the scenes” school personnel, assembling care packages to send to our troops overseas, and collecting books for neighborhood children. Students also design and deliver special holiday cards to a local nursing home.