SPRINGFIELD, NJ - As part of their presentations to the Springfield Board of Education (BOE), the principals at all five schools in the district provided updates on the efforts that had been made to integrate the Kinful program into the schools.

According to the Kinful website, the program is designed to improve student performance with a framework of social-emotional learning. In a description on the site, Kinful describes social-emotional learning as "the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions."

The program achieves these goals through a variety of classroom activities. Collaborative tests, like using group planning to move a slinky down to the floor to teach children team building and other problem solving exercises are joined with virtual reality experiences. When children see video footage of students in other countries dealing the with many of the same things they do, the hope is that it will teach them to empathize and build a greater sense of community.

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And up at the high school, students are filming projects based around a central theme that ties into the Kinful curriculum, to teach them life lessons about empathy and other key values.

Speaking after the most recent board of education meeting, Springfield Public Schools Superintendent Michael Davino said that having this type of programming for students in the school district is constructive, as it builds real-world skills they can use.

"Kinful, or any other program that addresses social-emotional learning, [is good for] experiencing and understanding what other cultures are like, how they live, how they experience similar situations, how they deal with those situations, which serves in the end result to only show us how much alike we are," he said.