Jenny Woo facilitated a parent engagement workshop using 52 Essential Conversations on October 16 during Family Engagement Night at Culverdale Elementary School in the Irvine Unified School District.
"52 Essential Conversations is a learning activity designed to develop social, emotional, and cognitive skills in children and adults," Woo said. "Individual cards prompt discussions about honesty, kindness, disappointment, and compassion in six categories: self-awareness, relationship skills, self-management, social awareness, responsible decision-making, and diversity, equity, and inclusion."
For the first portion of the Culverdale presentation, each family unit explored the cards in a set of 52 Essential Conversations while Woo explained how the activity can be used in a variety of settings - in school, at home, traveling in the car. Following Woo's explanation, Culverdale students joined the workshop to explore the activity with parents and siblings. For the next 30 minutes, family members selected cards and explored questions such as "think of a time when you told a lie - what did you say and why? - why is telling the truth important? - what about when you tell a lie to protect someone's feelings" or "name things you got for doing well - name emotions you felt for doing well - describe the difference: happiness from doing well, happiness from getting something for doing well."
"52 Essential Conversations is such a brilliant, yet simple way to bring families together," said Israel Cruz, Culverdale Elementary Resource Counseling Specialist. "I was amazed to see families at our engagement night sit down with their children and play such a fun game. To see families connect, and re-connect, was so heartwarming. What's even better about the game is that it's so easy to use, literally anywhere. A car ride. At the doctor. In the living room or even at the dinner table. It transcends from families at home to teachers and students in their classroom, even to the school counselor's office. As an elementary school counselor for Irvine Unified, I have already used these cards to help my students develop emotional intelligence."
Additional information about 52 Essential Conversations and its companion activity 52 Essential Relationships is available here.
Woo is pursuing her Ph.D. in education at UC Irvine. Her research interests included social-emotional learning, development of executive functions, family engagement, motivation, identity development, and critical consciousness. She holds a master's degree in Mind, Brain, and Education from Harvard University and a MBA from UC Berkeley. Her experience includes worked as a human capital consultant, executive coach, Montessori language director, career coach, and university instructor. Woo created 52 Essential Conversations as a research project while a master's student at Harvard to help children and adults develop skills for life.