Health & Wellness
Students’ perception of self and wellbeing underpins how they learn, think, and relate to others. At Rye Country Day School, we empower young people with the skills and tools needed to be emotionally aware, resilient, and mentally and physically healthy. The partnership of families is critical—we work hand-in-hand with parents and guardians to support them in helping learners achieve balance and wellness both at school and at home.
RCDS teachers and administrators value creating a student experience that includes a manageable mix of academic and extracurricular programs for each individual that encourages health and wellbeing. The School continually evaluates and revises requirements that impact students’ quality of life, including the relationship between homework, assessments, stress, and sleep. School-wide Health and Wellness programs are launched and regularly assessed using data gathered via community surveys, questionnaires, and focus groups.
Dedicated teams of advisors, grade-level deans, faculty, coaches, learning specialists, counselors, and health educators provide ongoing support and feedback to promote responsible decision-making and life choices. At RCDS, Health and Wellness is a shared community priority. We believe that balance, health, and joy are vital to the success and wellbeing of our community.
Students acquire the building blocks for health, wellness, and balance through a supportive environment that stimulates and promotes ethical, social, emotional, physical, and intellectual growth. Concepts covered include naming feelings, building friendships and social interactions, understanding worry, and starting mindfulness. Our Lower School Psychologist and Director of Health and Wellness work with teachers to create class activities and discussions that focus on these concepts and aptitudes. The Lower School uses Responsive Classroom, an evidence-based approach to teaching and discipline that focuses on engaging academics, positive community, effective management, and developmental awareness to create classrooms and school communities where students develop strong social and academic skills and every student can thrive.
Students take SEEK and Study Skills once per six-day cycle throughout Middle School. The Study Skills Program supports the development of executive functioning skills and strategies needed to become efficient, effective, and independent learners. Students are encouraged to cultivate an awareness of individual learning profiles and develop a deeper understanding of content through a variety of effective study methods. The SEEK Program focuses on social and emotional literacy. Students begin to develop a sense of emerging identity, tapping into emotional intelligence, examining decision-making skills, setting and respecting boundaries, and using expressive language to share thoughts and feelings, and practicing emotional regulation (stress, frustration tolerance, etc.). In addition, the Middle School Counselor meets with families in each grade bi-annually to discuss social/emotional development. Division-wide assembly time is dedicated to discussing important health-related topics, including chemical dependency and the care and feeding of our brains.
Research shows that peer-to-peer education results in more buy-in and more long-term behavioral benefits for adolescents. As such, the Upper School years begin with the ninth grade Life Skills class taught by junior and senior Peer Leaders once a cycle throughout the year. In Life Skills, students reflect upon, learn about, and discuss issues relevant to their lives, including digital responsibility, mental health, and tools for difficult conversations, among others. Peer Leaders are trained by faculty advisors and a faculty member is present at each Life Skills class to lend support if needed. In tenth grade, students take a Health class twice a cycle for one semester. In Health class, learners experience a more comprehensive approach to substance use, relationships, boundaries and mindfulness-based stress reduction. In junior seminar, students hone the skills and awareness needed to navigate the college process, including managing stress, developing identity and increasing self-knowledge experiences. During senior transition days, which are dedicated to health and wellness programming, students are equipped with tools that they will utilize after graduation, ranging from self-care, independent growth, and financial literacy. We also educate learners about healthy and unhealthy relationships, empowering them to identify and avoid abuse and learn how to love better. In advisory in Grades 9-12, students practice mindfulness exercises and explore mental health, identity, advocacy, finding a sense of purpose and meaning, stress management, and emotional regulation.