Life Skills and Human Sexuality

Life Skills is the Middle School’s social and emotional learning (SEL) program. Classes meet as part of students’ regular academic program and focus on themes of self-awareness, selfmanagement, social awareness, responsible decision-making, and relationship skills. These broad-based competencies are built upon the most current research findings and trends in adolescent health and development.

Seventh Grade

SEVENTH GRADE LIFE SKILLS—CULTIVATING SELF-IDENTITY: VALUES, FEELINGS, AND BELIEFS REVEALED

This is a semester-long class that meets on a biweekly basis. It serves as a separate, semester-rotating companion to the Human Sexuality course (see below). This course develops cultural competency by exploring identity and community. Students will engage in activities designed to stimulate self-reflection, dialogue, and the exploration of social justice concepts.

SEVENTH GRADE LIFE SKILLS—HUMAN SEXUALITY

This seventh grade semester-long course is designed to broaden student understanding of sexuality as a complex, ever-evolving, and integral component of the total personality. It provides an introduction to factual content and to the processes involved in clarifying one’s values, making personal decisions, and expressing oneself. Topics discussed include sexual and reproductive anatomy and physiology, pregnancy and birth, contraception, STDs, HIV, and the physical, social, emotional, and behavioral changes associated with puberty and early adolescence. Throughout the term, students exchange ideas and attitudes about such diverse issues as relationships, gender roles, gender identity, sexual orientation, current events, sexual and reproductive rights, and sexual behavior standards. Although this course is focused largely on sexuality, the elements of responsible decision-making are explored in relation to other important concerns, such as alcohol and other drugs, and relationships with peers and adults.

Eighth Grade

EIGHTH GRADE LIFE SKILLS—ADVOCACY

Each student rotates through five seminars over the course of the year. Here and Now is a mindfulness practice-based course. In this course, students will explore the origins of stress, learn to differentiate between normative stress and anxiety-based symptoms, and finally how to regulate their own response to stress inducing stimuli. Each week students will engage in stress reduction or mindfulness-based exercises and skill development in efforts to incorporate effective stress management and mindfulness techniques into their daily lives. How We Feel All The Feels asks the questions: What is emotion? Can you ‘read’ other people’s emotions? Does everyone have the same emotional experience? What should I do with my emotions? This course will explore emotion theory, the most up-to-date neuroscientific evidence about emotions, the impact of culture on emotion, and how emotion impacts our lives and those around us. Students will leave with immediately useful concepts and skills regarding emotion and the role it plays in shaping our experience. In See? See!, students will engage in diversity and equity work in order to continue their lifelong journey toward cultural competency (CC, or See? See!). Through dialogue, self-reflection, and grappling with the tough questions that rise around identity, students will develop and explore the value of cultural competence as a necessary 21st century skill. Sexual Health, a continuation of the seventh grade program in human sexuality, provides opportunities to explore relevant factual information as well as personal values and decision-making around a variety of sexual topics. We also study current events in the sexuality and sexual health fields, and explore helpful websites that provide accurate, useful information. A major theme of the course is understanding intimacy and boundaries and their relationship to sexuality. In Social Media Survival, students will consider the benefits and dangers of social media and will learn how to use digital platforms to strengthen their reputations, improve relationships with others, serve as role models for peers—all while maintaining a healthy digital diet.