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By Lillian Henricks, PsyD.

As we re-group for another year of learning together, I want to introduce you to a tool that some teachers are using with classes for Social Emotional Learning this year. The tool is a story-writing process called The Imagine Project in which students can write Imagine Stories.  Using this very simple framework, students write personal stories about a life challenge, starting each sentence with the word Imagine. The process alternates between celebrating strengths and positives, on the one hand, with processing a difficulty, on the other, ending on a very positive and future-oriented note.  The framework is quite flexible and can be applied in any number of ways. Mack Art Teacher Christy Allen found a way to incorporate it into some Visual Arts classes recently and found it really fruitful. 

Writing an Imagine Story is a reflective process that helps students reframe difficulties and grow in resilience. Children become familiar enough with the process to use it over and over again. There is no one story or a right story; rather, our lives are full of stories. Students also have the opportunity to read stories out loud if they wish. Research suggests  that sharing the stories in the classroom is a powerful way to increase understanding and empathy among students. 

Please check out the website theimagineproject.org for more information. Given the uncertainties and stressors of this unique time, we thought this would be a wonderful outlet for us to use as a community. You can also use this tool at home with your children. When children become familiar with the process, you can encourage them to write or tell an Imagine Story in relation to tricky circumstances; the opportunity to reflect and express is so healthy.  

As adults and parents this process is equally valuable.  How often do we give ourselves the gift of slowing down to integrate a difficult experience so as to move forward with more insight, peace, and hope? This process is not only a gift to ourselves but also to family members whom we impact in more ways than we know. 

With regard to supporting ourselves in ways that keep giving, feel free to also consider an upcoming parenting group that is being offered through Birch Psychology. The group, starting next week, is aimed at parents of children age 5-12. In addition to providing an opportunity to connect with other parents, psychologists will offer particular skills to help parents better address the ups and downs of parenting.  Please find more information on Parent Support Group (Elem Middle).    

In addition, we wanted to share an upcoming webinar presented by SENG (Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted). Heidi Molbak is a longtime SENG professional and national expert in advising families on school and therapeutic placements for gifted young people. Her webinar teaches you how to identify and evaluate key criteria when considering an out-of-home setting for your child, demystifies the process and the programs, and reviews resources to help make an appropriate decision. You can find more information here.