Bronxville News

C.A.R.E. Program Empowers Students With Strategies for Success
Bronxville, NY

Amid the pressures of impending New York State tests, Bronxville Elementary School third through fifth grade students have been focusing on their emotional well-being and learning strategies for success. In a refreshing approach, educators are teaching skills for managing emotions and encouraging students to develop coping strategies to navigate challenging situations.

Under the guidance of school psychologist Dr. Joyce Vastola, a group of fourth graders recently participated in a Cope Ahead lesson as part of the school’s Community, Awareness, Responsibility and Empathy (C.A.R.E.) program. The program aims to foster mindfulness skills and empower students with the necessary skills to tolerate distress, regulate emotions and maintain positive relationships with peers and adults. The C.A.R.E curriculum is based on DBT (Dialectical Behavior Theory) skills.

“The Cope Ahead lesson is part of the emotional regulation module, where we teach students skills for identifying and managing emotions and skills for taking care of themselves psychologically and physically so they can be the best person, student, family member and friend they can be,” Dr. Vastola said.

From their favorite dinners to energizing breakfasts, the students crafted personalized plans to foster a positive mindset and maximize their performance. They also discussed the test and acknowledged key details about it, including that it doesn’t go on their report cards and its short duration amid the school year. They also identified and processed their feelings and delved into coping skills and strategies to effectively navigate their emotions.

“I am so impressed by how the students are embracing the skills and strategies of Cope Ahead,” fourth grade teacher Lauren Wright said. “They say such insightful and mature things that really reflect the idea of using tools to deal with stressful and challenging situations, whether it is the New York State test, an upcoming flight, a sports game or martial arts test.”

During Cope Ahead, which is part of a series of lessons, the students also discussed skills that emphasize the importance of taking care of their bodies and minds, as well as prioritizing physical health, limiting screen time, eating healthy meals and staying hydrated, engaging in positive affirmations, getting enough sleep and exercising daily.

“It makes me happy that we are teaching our elementary students these coping skills and nurturing these ideas from a young age,” Wright said.