CASE for Kids symposium helps out-of-school time educators help students play with purpose 

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April 5, 2022 by HCDE-Texas

On Friday, 75 out-of-school time professionals got their game on during the play-based, social and emotional learning-centered CASE for Kids Spring Symposium in preparation for summer break. The symposium focused on demonstrating how caring adults influence students’ well-being and skill-building.  

“Opportunities to play and engage with other children and youth are limited during the school day,” said CASE for Kids Director Lisa Caruthers, Ph.D. “We’re equipping out-of-school time educators with the tools to complement and reinforce play-based social and emotional learning.”  

Social and emotional learning (SEL) is an approach that helps students of all ages to comprehend their emotions better, feel those emotions fully, and demonstrate empathy for others. 

The six sessions covered non-verbal communication, game-based learning, behavioral health, and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics) lessons.  

One session led by Kid-grit Director of Partnerships and Outreach Michelle Piña encouraged attendees to think on their feet as they gasped, growled, grinned, and giggled through improvisational theater games. 

“The games foster that space for students to be creative, have fun, use their bodies, and learn that body language is powerful,” said Piña.  

Piña began with games that helped participants limber up and then added layers of sound and movement. As the layers progressed, so did the participants’ comfort levels, confidence, and self-awareness.   

“It was something about the smiles that it put on all the faces of the adults that made us say, ‘Okay, we’re going to do this with our kids,’” said Donald Brown, Ed.D., an afterschool site coordinator for Chambers Elementary School in Alief Independent School District.  

Some students need SEL support more than others, says Adrian Treviño from Fort Bend Independent School District’s Extended Learning Program. He hopes to use the tools from the symposium to help students in his program who are returning to face-to-face instruction after nearly two years of virtual learning.  

“Creating relationships with these students is sometimes hard,” said Treviño. “Taking these games back to help students learn how to manage their emotions and make new friends is very beneficial.”  

To learn more about and register for upcoming training offered by CASE for Kids, visit www.hcdetexas.org/afterschoolzone/training

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