As I kissed her goodbye and blessed her “Dios Te Bendiga” (“God Bless You”), I walked away among the swarm of frantic and emotional parents just like me on moving day at the college dorms. Exiting the dorm building, I found a quiet place on campus, my mind suddenly filled with a cloud of memories, images, conversations, along with tears and laughter that could not be contained. Thoughts of 19 years of a path of putting my daughter’s developmental needs at a social, emotional, mental, physical and spiritual level in the forefront of my daily life, kept spinning. And it is in this moment that I’m convinced now, more than ever, that developing the social-emotional learning skills of our children early in their lives sets a stage for more positive outcomes down the road. 

In doing so, we help them feel confident about themselves, moving through the ups and downs of life with integrity and determination, avoiding staying down. Those are the skills that will help them navigate life, get along with others, establish positive relations, be aware of themselves (strengths and weaknesses), have empathy, make good decisions, regulate their emotions in a positive manner, resolve conflict and perform better academically – to get to moments like this.

As a parent and manager of the Circle of Parents ®program at Illuminate Colorado, I am proud that our organization is offering support to Colorado families and organizations alike to foster the social-emotional learning skills of our children. 

For the last several years as the Colorado Chapter of Circle of Parents, we’ve been focused on growing this national evidence-informed model to provide a friendly, supportive environment led by parents and other caregivers, where parents are the experts. And while we continued to grow more Circles, with 44 Circles in 12 counties connecting parents and caregivers, too often we’ve heard how parents are forced to deprioritize their own needs because they can’t find child care. I’m excited to announce that, later this fall, we will extend to parents and caregivers a helping hand in the process of continuously developing their children at a social-emotional level through Children’s Circle®, offered alongside Circle of Parents to provide a holistic experience for families.

Beginning Children’s Circle®

Illuminate Colorado created this new curriculum-based children’s program to build the social-emotional skills of the children of caregivers and parents attending Circles. Last month, we began training Circle of Parents facilitators and Children’s Circle leaders on the new curriculum consisting of 33 different lessons that can be used in any order highlighting skills such as: 

  • Self-Regulation/Calming,
  • Managing and recognizing emotions in self and others,
  • Conflict resolution,
  • Compassion and empathy and
  • Patience.

Designed by child development experts with a trauma-informed lens as well as an equity lens, the curriculum incorporates the Strengthening Families™ Protective Factors, as well as the competencies of social and emotional learning under CASEL (The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning). 

The goal of Children’s Circle is to provide developmentally appropriate, skill-building activities that will increase children’s confidence and self-worth while providing fun and enjoyment. This holistic approach to family support gives children a nurturing atmosphere, supportive skill building and structured play opportunities, while ensuring that parents have a safe, welcoming place to leave their children while they connect in the Circle of Parents – offered at no cost to the parents.

We will be offering another Children’s Circle training session on September 28-29 of this year. And as for me …well, the moment has arrived for my role as a mom to take more of a back seat. Continuously loving my daughters, providing support in times of need, checking in on them, enjoying life with them when they invite me or accept my invites, watching them navigate the ups and downs of life with confidence, crying with them, laughing with them…. As parents we never go away…such a beautiful and honorable role to play in life. Grateful.

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