During the tween and teen years, our personality, identity and self-understanding emerge from a sea of competing emotions, experiences and intra/inter-personal dynamics. And yet the vast majority of Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) resources are meant for younger audiences. The Digging Deep Project listened as our community of parents, teachers and mental health professionals expressed their need for SEL Materials appropriate for this age group. This is our response: An interactive workbook that uses art, journaling, guided meditation and other fun exercises to engage young people in the creation of their self-understanding.
About the Exercises
Over the years, the Digging Deep Project has been honored to collaborate with a range of counselors, psychologists, physicians, social workers, researchers, teachers and other professionals working with the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of children and young people. For this project, we worked with psychologist and author, Kristi Pikiewicz, PhD, to design age-appropriate activities based on concepts including mindfulness, positive psychology, and our developing understanding of Social Emotional Learning (SEL). Dr. Pikiewicz was a middle school teacher before earning her PhD in clinical psychology and now guides the social-emotional learning curriculum for a K-8 private school in Boulder, CO with a mission for gifted education.
The exercises themselves are organized into the following three “stages,” which represent a path toward growth after a difficult event, life challenge, or period of confusion:
Exercises help readers explore the elements of their past that create who they are now. Activities such as “Family Tree” and “Timeline” encourage readers to identify key people and events that shape their self-understanding, while art, journaling, guided meditations and check-ins in the form of a musical mixing board help readers turn their attention to what it’s like to be in the moment.
Periods of growth are often punctuated by feeling “stuck,” and activities in this stage of Disillusionment help readers sit with this feeling and respect what it can teach them, instead of pushing away challenging emotions. Exercises such as “Lost in Space” and “Chutes & Ladders” help readers understand that periods of Disillusionment are inevitable, but so is passing through this stage on the way to growth.
Activities in this stage help readers see themselves through a lens of pride, acceptance and hope, for example, journaling about things they’re proud of and learning to reframe events through a positive point of view. Through activities that encourage readers to try new things, the stage of Discovery becomes not only about who a reader is, but who that person could become.